Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far

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Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki of the Interior Ministry, left, and Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami of the Traffic Department at the press conference. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
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A Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry spokesperson says the Ministry of Interior has established six driving schools for women in different regions of the Kingdom. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2018
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Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far

  • Six specialized driving schools have been issued licenses to train women in driving in five cities across the Kingdom.
  • Twenty-two centers have been opened in 22 cities and governorates to exchange foreign driving licenses for local ones for Saudi female citizens and residents.

RIYADH:  The Saudi government is doing everything to ensure safe driving, with regulations, laws and punishments applied equally to men and women without discrimination, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said on Sunday.

He said the ministry has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far and demand is still very high.

“Our preparation for this historic day started after the issuance of the royal decree,” Al-Turki said in a press conference. “We took into consideration the general safety of the traffic across the country.” 

There has been a huge effort put in to reduce the number of accidents, and to address the lack of driving experience among Saudi women, he added.

Al-Turki stressed that: “Six specialized driving schools have been issued licenses to train women in driving in five cities across the Kingdom. Four of these schools have already started operations and the fifth one in Qassim is nearing completion.

“Furthermore, we had already prepared 22 centers in 22 cities and governorates to exchange foreign driving licenses for local ones for Saudi female citizens and residents. We also intensified the use of technology on roads to ensure the ideal execution of all safety measures. We were keen to provide the technology needed to identify female drivers while driving (identifying her without asking her to remove her cover if she is covering).

“We trained 40 Saudi women for traffic checking (field checking) and they will start working within a few weeks as investigation assistants for investigating accidents,” he said. 

The Interior Ministry spokesman said: “Very strict harassment legislation was issued before the implementation of women driving; actually this legislation was issued to stand against harassment in all its forms and in all places, including the ones that can happen on road, and protect everyone, not only women, in the society from this brutal action.

“We took a very important step and I can safely say that we succeeded in achieving all the objectives we had nine months ago to ensure safe driving for everyone. We equally trust both females and males in sticking to the regulations and safety measures.”

The director general of the Traffic Department, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami, said his department had sent a number of police officers overseas to get trained on how to investigate car accidents, and since their return, they have been training their peers across the country. 

“We have developed an online site to specify dates for license exchange and have also developed an identity verification system. We closely cooperated with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to improve insurance packages and regulations. A strong database has been developed; speed limit signs, radars and CCTV are increased.

“We will announce the readiness of more cities and governorates to train women in more driving schools by next week,” Al-Bassami said.

When asked about the possibility of foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia to rent a car, Al-Turki said: “Yes, definitely, she only has to have a license and then she can.”

Asked whether any accidents or violations had been recorded, he said: “No. Besides, it is too early to start issuing figures. We have noticed in the past few hours that women are very responsible and aware.”

The speakers said that the authorities were studying the possibility of raising fines in order to reduce deaths and accidents.

Asked about the fine when catching an unlicensed woman driving, Al- Bassami said: “What applies for male drivers will definitely apply to females. Equal treatment for both.”

It also becomes a woman’s right to rent a car or make business related to buying, selling and renting cars. He added that Saudi women must immediately exchange their foreign driving license while a female visitor’s case will depend on her paperwork and residence duration. However, they commented that some women who had foreign driving license did not pass the driving test in Saudi Arabia, which is a sign that the Kingdom is following highest standards to ensure safe driving. 


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 14 December 2018
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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.