Saudi women mark National Day behind the steering wheel

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Hind Khalid Al-Zahid
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Saudi women are celebrating the National Day behind the steering wheel. (Supplied)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Saudi women mark National Day behind the steering wheel

  • Under King Salman and his crown prince, women have been able to obtain their rights and become ambassadors to all the countries of the world

MAKKAH/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s celebration of its 88th National Day comes at a time when the Kingdom is achieving remarkable progress economically and socially, most notably lifting the ban on women driving.
This is the first National Day in which Saudi women can drive their cars. Writer Heba Qazi said it is a beautiful feeling, and Saudi women can now participate in celebrations and exercise their legitimate right nationwide.
The 88th National Day is a great opportunity to remember past glories and recognize the great sacrifices of those who have held high the banner of Saudi women’s rights, she added.
Under King Salman and his crown prince, women have been able to obtain their rights and become ambassadors to all the countries of the world, she said.
The king and crown prince are “consolidating the stature of this nation and granting women all their rights, including driving cars,” added Qazi
“We take pride in this great day and this important privilege, celebrating National Day for the first time from behind the driving wheel,” she said.
“We also take pride in the nation’s achievements at all levels, and we are endeavoring to highlight the status of women in all fields.”
Psychologist and sociologist Hasna Al-Tallahi said the Kingdom has established itself as the strongest nation in the region by promoting its political and economic position, winning the respect of the entire world and respecting women’s status.
“It also managed to hinder the efforts of many parties to diminish the role of women in all fields,” she added.
“When women obtained some of their rights, most importantly driving, they felt free. They were responsible for their time and family, and were not at the mercy of drivers and society.”
King Salman supports the rights of the most vulnerable worldwide, and the rights of Saudi women by listening to their demands, Al-Tallahi said, expressing great pride in her nation, its leadership and people.
“Challenges are always present and so are their solutions,” she added. “With each new challenge, solutions are created … to achieve women’s progress, growth and advancement.”’
Mesbah Abdulhakim, a supervisor at a hotel in Makkah, said the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan gives a great deal of attention to women’s issues.
“Lifting the driving ban imposed on women paved the way for many job opportunities in various sectors, not only in health and education,” she added.
Journalist Amira Qatabri said: “Lifting the driving ban on women led to a division between the conservative movement, which controls many aspects of social life in the Kingdom, and a more understanding and open elite.”
Women being able to drive is not just symbolic, but part of what may be the largest transformation in Saudi society in half a century, she added.
Hind Khalid Al-Zahid, the first female Saudi executive director — for the Dammam Airport Co. — and head of the Businesswomen’s Center at the Eastern Province’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “This is a very important year in the Kingdom’s history.”
She said: “It establishes a foundation for equal rights and opportunities for men and women, giving women an opportunity to be part of what is happening in the Kingdom regarding national transformation, in line with Vision 2030.”
Saudi actor and presenter Khairiah Abu Laban said: “I am really short for words, and do not know how to thank our leadership for this beautiful feeling.”


Scholarships abroad for 330 students as part of ambitious Saudi tourism project

Updated 17 min 46 sec ago
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Scholarships abroad for 330 students as part of ambitious Saudi tourism project

  • Places will be offered to 330 students from the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia to study in Australia, France, the US and the UK

JEDDAH: Hundreds of Saudi students are being given the chance to study abroad as part of an ambitious tourism project for the Kingdom.
The Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) is set to open the second phase of a scholarship program for Al-Ula high school graduates from the 2018/2019 academic year.
Places will be offered to 330 students from the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia to study in Australia, France, the US and the UK, almost double the number of scholarships made available in the program’s first round.
The RCU-sponsored initiative offers education and training in professions that will support the growth and development of Al-Ula into an open, living museum and global tourism destination.
Saudi minister of culture and RCU governor, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, said the scholarship program’s success represented “an important step in the realization of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for a Kingdom that thrives from the contributions of a vibrant, successful society.
“We will continue to develop the scholarship program in a way that empowers the youth of Al-Ula to reach their full potential, and in turn, benefit the growth of the entire Kingdom.
“We, at RCU, believe that investing in people is the real catalyst for the success of development plans anywhere. Therefore, we invest in the youth of Al-Ula who have shown their skills and abilities to achieve their goals,” Prince Badr added.
Applications for the second phase of the project can be submitted via the RCU’s website at https://rcu.gov.sa/scholarship from 10 a.m. on June 20 until the end of the day on June 30.
The launch of round two of the program will see a total of 496 students from Al-Ula studying tourism and hospitality, history and archaeology, and agriculture, along with the specialist subjects of architecture and urban design, environmental planning, and facilities and services management.
As part of the program’s expansion, Australia has been added as a host country for the select group of students from Al-Ula who will pursue vocational education, diplomas, and bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
The aim of the scholarship program is to develop skills and expertise among talented local youth, to enable them to play a major role in the ongoing development of Al-Ula on return from their foreign studies.
The RCU’s charter also looks to help catalyze new and diverse economic sectors in Al-Ula while involving the local people at all stages of development.
The RCU provided employment opportunities for the local community of Al-Ula to work with tourists and visitors during the 2018-2019 Winter at Tantora festival, in its first season, with them taking part in the 10-week series of concerts, cultural and entertainment events.
The scholarship program is just one component of a wider plan to develop Al-Ula, its natural wonders and ancient cultural sites into one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.