Saudi forum helps put women drivers on the road

Freedom of movement for women and the belief that driving “is a basic human right” were the top reasons cited by those in agreement with the decision to lift the driving ban. (File photo)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Saudi forum helps put women drivers on the road

JEDDAH: King Saud University (KSU) on Friday inaugurated the three-day forum on safety for women drivers, under the theme of “The First Time,” in the presence of Princess Nourah bint Mohammed.
KSU Vice Chancellor for Female Students Dr. Inas bint Suleiman Al-Issa said the cultural forum is a response to the royal decree allowing women to drive.
She added it revitalizes the university’s role in society as it helps to raise awareness and disseminate the regulations and laws issued by the state’s bodies.
The change in the law on women driving comes into effect in June this year.
Al-Issa expressed thanks to the forum’s participants and supporters and praised their contribution to the success of the forum.
The forum includes a scientific program that discusses the psychological and social readiness of women to drive under the supervision of the elite of the university’s teaching personnel. It will also include family-oriented entertainment events.
This forum is considered as the biggest platform of the bodies supporting women’s driving with the participation of governmental entities such as the General Directorate of Traffic, the Ministry of Transport, Riyadh Secretariat, Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), the Saudi Council of Engineers, insurance companies, fuel station companies, medical centers and car companies.
The forum aims to inculcate the culture of women driving, and introduce an educational and cultural experience toward-safe driving in an entertaining atmosphere. The forum allows women to learn the traffic laws and how to get driving licenses. It will also include talks with KSU’s best academics.
Entry to the three-day event is free. The forum will include entertainment events, and space will be set aside in which children can play and draw.
Noha Turki Al-Mala, a member of the Saudi Society for Traffic Safety, said the society aims to develop the practical side of safety.


Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 50 min ago
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Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

  • From the age of three, Hisham Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art

JEDDAH: When it comes to royal connections, Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi can truly claim to have made it an
art form.

During a lifetime at the easel, the unassuming Jeddah-based artist’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings.

And it all began at the age of just 14, when Binjabi painted a portrait of King Faisal and ended up presenting it in person to the late king of Saudi Arabia.

Further commissions were to follow, which resulted in Binjabi producing works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too.

Today he owns two galleries in Jeddah from where he exhibits artwork and sculptures from around the world. 

Binjabi revealed his incredible story to Arab News while at work painting on canvas at a recent Jeddah book fair.

Hisham Binjabi made works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too. (Photos/Supplied)

From the age of three, when he painted the walls of his family home in black, Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art. His talent was recognized at school where he was known as the “boy who paints,” and although he chose to major in science, a teacher spotted his artistic skills and taught him the basics of mixing colors.

Binjabi said: “After that I started to practice, and whenever I didn’t need to attend a class, I would escape to the painting room. As I became stronger with the use of colors, my teacher suggested I pick a subject to paint and I chose to do a portrait of King Faisal.”

After framing his picture, Binjabi was spotted carrying his creation down the street by the then-minister of education, who was so taken by it that he invited the teenager to present it to King Faisal himself. 

On the right track

The young artist continued to paint in his home and later studied English literature at King Abdul Aziz University, where again his talents were spotted. 

The dean of the university asked him to produce a painting to display in a tent, and this time the subject was to be camels.

During a visit to the campus, the then-King Khaled saw the painting and asked to meet the artist. “Before I knew it, I was standing in front of King Khaled,” said Binjabi. 

“The king asked me why I had painted camels, and I told him that camels were the friends of Bedouin people.”

The king invited Binjabi to go to Riyadh and attend the first ever Janadriyah Festival, and from then on his works became highly prized by royalty. The then-Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asked him to produce a painting of his guests, a French prince and Sheikh Zayed of the UAE, watching camels through binoculars. 

As a result, Binjabi was invited to stay at Sheikh Zayed’s palace in Abu Dhabi, where he spent four months painting a family portrait for the leader.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to be another of Binjabi’s distinguished clients, and even while studying for a Master’s degree in Lebanon, he painted for the king of Lebanon.

He said: “It did get overwhelming. I never asked to be associated with royalty, it just happened. Something in my heart kept pushing me along and telling me I was on the right track.”

Today he still represents the Kingdom in many different countries. 

“My life is full of stories about art which I find inspirational,” Binjabi added.