Saudi female bikers ready to chart a new course

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Bikers Skills Institute began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Bikers Skills Institute began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Bikers Skills Institute began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Bikers Skills Institute began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Bikers Skills Institute began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
Updated 03 February 2019
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Saudi female bikers ready to chart a new course

  • Saudi Arabia’s female motorcyclists await clarification on licenses
  • The royal decree in September 2017 that gave women the right to drive in the Kingdom from June 2018 stipulated that the laws on driving would be equal for men and women

JEDDAH: Almost seven months since Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on female drivers, women hoping to be granted a license to ride a motorcycle are still waiting. According to Wael Huraib, founder of Bikers Skills Institute (BSI) — which he claims is the only motorcycle training school for female riders in the Kingdom — no motorbike licenses are currently being issued for women.
“For ladies, as of now, they’re not able to get a license yet, and we don’t really know why,” said Huraib. “We heard that women have received tractor-trailer licenses, but we know for a fact that no motorcycle license applications are being processed. We are assuming the traffic police are very focused on cars, but whatever the problem is, we hope it is resolved soon.”
The royal decree in September 2017 that gave women the right to drive in the Kingdom from June 2018 stipulated that the laws on driving would be equal for men and women. But it appears that is not yet the case, despite assurances from the Saudi Directorate of Traffic a year ago that women would be permitted to drive motorcycles and trucks.

Elena Bukaryeva, an instructor at BSI, said she suspects there is some confusion or miscommunication between the traffic police administration and the licensing division.
“My husband spoke to one of the highest-ranking traffic police officials in Riyadh,” she told Arab News. “He said that there was nothing at all to stop women being issued motorcycle licenses.
“But the following day, one of the ladies who finished our course went to the traffic police and she was told there are no motorcycle licenses for women, only for men. The same thing happened when I applied for my license and when other women did.”
The General Directorate of Traffic did not respond to Arab News’ request for comment.
Bukaryeva said that she has heard of women with licenses issued abroad riding motorcycles in the Kingdom, although added that they are “semi-disguised as men” when doing so.
“When you are wearing loose clothing and a full-face helmet, no one can tell if you are a man or a woman,” she said, adding that she has not tried it herself as her husband told her it was not worth the risk.
BSI began training female riders as soon as the driving ban was lifted.
The company has graduated 18 women so far, including Reem Al-Megbel, a 30-year-old Saudi financial operations manager.
Al-Megbel was at the motorcycle school on Wednesday evening to practice riding, because she cannot, yet, do so on the roads.
“My dream is to wake up one day and have a car and a motorcycle in my garage and be free to choose what to drive,” she said. “It would probably be the motorcycle.”
Al-Megbel added that her “ultimate” dream, though, would be to take a road trip across the Kingdom with a group of fellow female bikers.


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.