World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

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A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
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A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”

 


Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

Updated 47 min 47 sec ago
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Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

  • “We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said
  • Delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in Russia for an official visit

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman said the Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism and disrespect international laws at the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday.

“We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said adding that “Iran is spreading chaos in the region through destruction and bloodshed, and by supporting the militias of Hezbollah and Houthis.”

“Houthi militias continue to violate the resolutions of the Security Council and the Stockholm Agreement, ignored UN resolution 2216 and the Gulf initiative…our goal is to achieve stability for Yemeni citizens under a legitimate government,” he said.

Prince Khalid reiterated that peace and security were top priorities for Saudi Arabia, and that the Kingdom was working together with other countries to achieve that aim.

"Today's participation in this conference is part of the continuation of its efforts in combating terrorism for the safety of all people and nations," he tweeted.

The deputy defense minister also said that the Kingdom is witnessing today an unprecedented transformation and development to achieve the vision 2030.

A delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi deputy minister of defense, are in Russia for an official visit, during which the members took part in the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security and hold a number of meetings.

Prince Khalid was welcomed by Saudi Ambassador to Russia Dr. Raed Qurmali, military adviser Maj. Gen. Talal Al-Otaibi and Military Attache Gen. Mohammad Al-Mutairi, along with the deputy chief of staff of the Russian defense ministry and other civilian and military officials.