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.


King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs at the launch of a three-day festival of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday in Ad Diriyah, near Riyadh. (Twitter)
Updated 54 min 2 sec ago
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King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

  • Enrique Iglesias took the stage in an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah
  • The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical

RIYADH: Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias launched a three-day festival  of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday with a stunning concert at an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah.

The king of Latin pop took the stage by storm and stole the hearts of thousands in the crowd, whose screams could be heard from a long way away. “I love you Enrique,” a group of girls in the audience shouted.

As he waved his hand back and forth in the air, the crowd started doing the same while jumping up and down. The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical. 

No theatrics were excluded as displays of fireworks and lasers wowed the audience. The singer asked the crowd if they spoke Spanish, and everyone screamed “Yes.”

While stage smoke poured into the arena a female performer sang a duet with Iglesias, who then delighted the crowd with some impromptu salsa dancing in front of the stage.

Fans waved their uplifted phones with their screens and flashes along with the music, while others tried to capture the performance.

“You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape my love,” sang Iglesias while the crowd screamed.

Earlier the R&B singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo persuaded the crowd to put on their dancing shoes with an energetic set.

“Saudi, whassup! This is a dream come true for me! Since we are in Saudi Arabia I want to do things a little different,” he told the audience. He said his mother taught him to never visit empty handed, so his gift to Saudi Arabia was the debut performance of a new song.

Thursday’s entertainment will be followed on Friday by shows from Arab music star Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas. The climax of the festival comes on Saturday with the Saudia Ad Diriyah Formula E Grand Prix motor race, followed by headline performances by OneRepublic and the megastar DJ/producer David Guetta.