Saudi fathers honored to teach daughters as driving ban nears end

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Nissan ad featuring fathers, brothers and husbands teaching their women how to drive. Video grab
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Coca-Cola ad featuring a father teaching his daughter how to drive. Video grab
Updated 04 April 2018

Saudi fathers honored to teach daughters as driving ban nears end

  • The minimum age to apply for a license for private cars or motorcycles is 18.
  • Any women with valid international licenses and trainer’s permits can apply to become driving instructors
JEDDAH: Ever since the royal decree lifting the ban on women driving was issued on Sept. 26 last year, Saudis have received the historic news in many different ways.
Perhaps the best reaction was fathers and daughters hitting the streets to learn how to steer the wheel.
In preparation for the long-awaited date of June 24, when the royal order will come into force, two Saudi universities, Princess Norah and Effat, announced the opening of driving schools for females.
Effat University recently teamed up with Ford Motor Company by hosting a special Driving Skills for Life program with Effat University.
On the more private and intimate side, some fathers chose to be part of their daughters’ first time behind the wheel.
A number of videos of fathers giving driving lessons to their daughters circulated on social media sites and apps, especially Snapchat, which has millions of users in the Kingdom.

A duty and a special experience
“For me, this decision was expected a long time ago and was just a matter of time,” Baleegh Basharaheel told Arab News on the royal decree. “We have a lot of our daughters and wives who are studying outside the Kingdom and they are driving in Europe, in the US, in Australia. I think it was a decision made to change our culture in Saudi Arabia, and the change is coming too fast.”
The 50-year-old father said that he is neither against nor totally with the decision. “I think there should be some rules, some actions that need to be taken to make the driving of women in Saudi Arabia safe and also practical.”
Speaking of how driving lessons came about, Basharaheel, a resident of Jeddah and a father of four daughters and one son, said: “At the beginning, there was an interest from my daughter is being taught how to drive. I tried with all of my daughters to drive outside Jeddah in some open areas.”
He said he wanted to see for himself which of his daughters has “some caution and is a little bit focused on driving alone, not on any other (distracting) things.
“When I tested all my daughters’ driving skills, I felt that (only) one of them, in the future, can drive easily but still needs more practice and needs to go to driving school to thoroughly learn about the signals, traffic rules and some basic driving tips,” he added.
Basharaheel believes it is a duty to teach his daughters how to be “careful and respectful” on the road. “It’s my duty to remind them about some the tips that they should follow if they are interested in driving in the future.”
Remembering his daughters’ first steps as babies, Basharaheel said there is little comparison between the two situations, but it was more difficult when they were babies.
“Of course, I was more worried about them when they were babies than now behind the wheel.”
First times and first experiences are always special, particularly with one’s own children. “Teaching my daughters to drive was something I felt was better coming from me. However, that doesn’t mean it is a must. There are some alternatives. Currently, we have drivers and companies that ease the task for fathers, but for me, it was a special experience to have to with my daughters,” Basharaheel said.
He concluded with a piece of advice to all fathers: “It’s a good practice and I advise each and every father to start practicing with their daughters. It should be conducted on a frequent basis to feel and see the progress.”
Basharaheel’s middle daughter said it was a great honor to have her father as her personal driving instructor. “Father is the best instructor ever, because you have a different dynamic with your father from the one that you can get with any other instructor,” said 24-year-old daughter Waad Baleegh.
Apart from the fun they have, Waad said with her father she has access to a massive amount of experience.
Waad, who had taken four or five classes over the past years with her father, said it is a totally different experience: “I never thought this day would come, but here it is! I’m very excited because my dad has always been supportive from the beginning.”
Since her father witnessed everything from the beginning, Waad said he will be the first person to get a ride when she officially hits the streets.
“Of course he will be there to see how I do it all by myself. It’s mandatory for him to be there for my first time. It will have some sentimental meaning to it and will be special.”

A lovely bonding time
Batoul Al-Jabri and her twin sister Rawan, 26, experienced the thrill with their father for only a few minutes behind the wheel and were still able to feel the strong connection this unique experience gives.
“This maybe doesn’t count. Dad is probably too afraid of us wrecking his car!” said Batoul, laughing.
On whether she would rather have her father as her driving instructor, Batoul thinks that the idea has its pros and cons.”
“Yes and no. Yes, because I have fun and regardless of what they might think of girls driving, they themselves have fun (teaching us how to drive).”
“They remember when they first started learning to drive and when they first bought their new car, and they tell you all kinds of stories,” added Batoul. “It is a really lovely bonding time.”
Batoul said that some fathers, in their heads, cannot wait to give their sons their first driving lesson. “To them, it’s a moment they have long been waiting for since the baby was born. They didn’t imagine it would be a girl (who will be receiving those driving lessons).”
She said she has always hoped her father would teach her his “amazing” driving skills. “Dad is an amazing driver, but he is a horrible teacher,” Batoul said jokingly.
“I’m not dissing my father, I’m just saying that he makes me nervous when I drive. You will hear him screaming ‘Watch out, watch out!’ and the car is a mile away. So for this very reason, I said ‘no’ earlier as I’m afraid I would get nervous (if I had my father as an instructor) and then give up driving for good.”

Ads promoting the motion
A couple of world-famous companies took part in the “father and daughter” motion and invested in successful advertisements to further promote it.
Coca-Cola released their ad on Nov. 2 last year under the title “Change is an opportunity, special moment” with the hashtag #ChangeHasATaste. The ad shows a father and his daughter practicing driving in the desert, with the drink as a motivation to master the task.
In another ad by Nissan a number of women were invited to a special driving lesson with an unprecedented instructor. The company brought the fathers, brothers and husbands of these women to give them their first driving lesson.
“I was a bit nervous at first. This was the first time I drove, but knowing my dad was with me I felt safe and comfortable,” said Bayan Ashor from the ad.
Nissan used the hashtag #SheDrives in their ad.


June 24

The decision of allowing women to drive will come into force starting from Shawwal 10, 1439 (corresponding to June 24, 2018) and in accordance with rules and regulations, and the completion of the necessary steps, including the obtaining of a driver’s license.

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

Updated 27 June 2019

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

  • The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah
  • Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetched SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction

JEDDAH: Art for Al Balad, the first charity auction of contemporary art in the Kingdom, achieved sales of SR 4.8 million ($1.3 million) on Wednesday.

The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, all of which sold, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Wednesday. It was organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with auction house Christie’s.

“It was much above our expectations; we are very happy,” said Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie's Middle East.

About 200 Saudi art collectors joined artists and other members of the Saudi and international cultural communities at the event. Bidding was highly competitive, with “Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetching SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction.


• Nassif House was built in 1872. Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was received at this house upon his entry to the city in 1925.

• The Saudi government is keen to restore and preserve buildings with historic and cultural significance, and carries out regular renovation work.

• Al-Balad, or Jeddah historic district, is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. It contains about 600 buildings that date back to the 19th century.


“Where to” by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen was the second-most expensive work, selling for SR 500,000, while “Witness in the Desert” by Abdullah Al-Sahikh attracted a winning bid of SR 380,000.

“It was extremely pleasing, very encouraging,” said Jeha. “The energy in the room was fantastic. The enthusiasm was very strong. I think for the very first auction, we can all be extremely pleased.”

Jeha described the growth of the art scene and culture in general in Saudi Arabia as very impressive, and said that the Ministry of Culture has developed a strong platform and program for the coming years, which will help to establish art and culture in the hearts and minds of people in the Kingdom.

The profits from the auction will help to establish a new heritage museum in Jeddah’s historic district and support The Help Center, a non-profit organization that provides customized support to children in the city with special educational needs.

The auction received donations and funding from galleries, cultural foundations, private collectors, and artists across the Arab World, the assistance of which was acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture.

“This would not be possible without the generous support of both the donors and the talented artists,” said Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, deputy minister of culture, in his opening speech.

The ministry aspires to create and develop a cultural environment in which artists and other creatives can access a platform that celebrates a shared identity and builds understanding between people.

Speaking of the Ministry’s three main objectives in its cultural vision for 2019, Fayez said that it aims to support the nation’s cultural transformation by promoting culture as a way of life, enable the sector to contribute to the economy, and encourage international cultural exchanges.

Before the auction, the works on sale were on display to the public in an exhibition on June 23 and 24.