First batch of Saudi women receive driving licenses 

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Esraa Albuti, an executive director at Ernst & Young, shows her driving license issued by the General Department of Traffic in Riyadh on Monday. (Saudi Information Ministry photo via AP)
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Tahani Aldosemani, an assistant professor at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University in Al-Kharj, Riyadh region, displays her driving license that she received from the General Department of Traffic in Riyadh on Monday, June 4, 2018. She was one of the first 10 women to get a Saudi driving license since the Kingdom lifted the world's only ban on women driving. (Saudi Information Ministry photo via AP)
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A Saudi woman speaks to an officer before her driving exam at the General Department of Traffic in Riyadh on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Saudi Information Ministry photo via AP)
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A Saudi woman buckles her seat belt before doing a driving test at the General Department of Traffic in Riyadh on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Saudi Information Ministry photo via AP)
Updated 05 June 2018
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First batch of Saudi women receive driving licenses 

  • Saudi Arabia is all set to allow women driving in three weeks, about ten months after a royal decree was issued announcing the end of a decades-long ban on women driving.
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen as the force behind the lifting of the ban.

JEDDAH: History is in the making in Saudi Arabia as the General Directorate of Traffic issued first driver’s licenses to 10 women on Monday.

The Kingdom is all set to allow women driving in three weeks. An official statement said the 10 women who were issued licenses already held international licenses. They took a brief driving test and eye exam before being issued the licenses at the General Directorate of Traffic in Riyadh.

Following the issuance of licenses, a video showing a woman receiving here Saudi driving license went viral online. The social media was also abuzz with the news and excited Saudis took to Twitter to express their feelings on this historic day.

“Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia,” a tweet by @saudalzmanan read.

Congratulations poured in as other tweeps expressed their happiness for the woman who appeared in the video. “Congratulations. I want to befriend her so that she can pass by and give me a ride and maybe show me around Riyadh city with her,” said Maryam (@m36010216).



“Thanks to the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques (King Salman), we finally saw the license being handed over to our Saudi sister by a Saudi authority. Now, not only you can drive abroad (but in Saudi Arabia as well),” said Louie Alfassi (@Louie_alfassi).

“This is one happy lady. Good luck,” See Brown (@sebbrown86) commented on the viral video.

This will allow women across the Kingdom drive their cars from June 24. After confirming the validity of foreign licenses submitted via an online portal (http://www.sdlp.sa), and assessing applicants’ ability to drive by conducting a practical test, the first group of women received their Saudi licenses on Monday.

This measure is part of the traffic department’s preparations to implement a royal decree allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia. 

In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of a decades-long ban on women driving.

Five Saudi universities have launched driving schools for women: Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Tabuk University, Taif University and Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.

The Saudi Driving School, at Princess Nourah University, the first for women in the capital, was launched in partnership with the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, an established driving school in the region.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is seen as the force behind the lifting of the ban. His Vision 2030 reform plan for a post-oil era seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the work force, up from about 22 percent now.


KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019
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KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.