OIC chief to visit Myanmar soon to address Rohingya concerns

Updated 19 December 2012
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OIC chief to visit Myanmar soon to address Rohingya concerns

Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said yesterday that he would soon visit Myanmar as the head of a high-level delegation including OIC foreign ministers as part of efforts to stop the attacks against Rohingya Muslims.
Addressing a press conference, he said the visit came in response to an invitation he received from Myanmar President Thein Sein. “We have not canceled our pre-planned visit to Myanmar but it was postponed due to insecure conditions in the country,” he told Arab News.
Speaking about the upcoming OIC summit in Cairo, he said Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Islamophobia would figure high on its agenda. “We are now in the process of making necessary preparations to make the summit successful,” the secretary-general said.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegation recently visited OIC headquarters to discuss arrangements for the summit. An OIC team yesterday left for Egypt to discuss technical and logistical aspects of the conference. Ihsanoglu highlighted Egypt’s important role in the Islamic world.
Referring to the situation in Syria, the OIC chief said the crisis has reached its final stage. However, he stressed that the international community should reach an agreement on ceasefire in order to find a political solution for the problem.
“The political solution should reflect the hopes and aspirations of Syrian people, should not repeat the mistake done in Iraq and preserve Syrian state institutions,” the secretary-general said.
Asked about appointing a representative of the Syrian opposition council in the OIC, he said: “We have not yet discussed such a proposal.” However, he pointed out that OIC was keeping in touch with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and other opposition groups.
Ihsanoglu had met with Ahmed Al-Khateeb, president of the coalition and George Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council, on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakech recently. Both leaders had requested OIC’s political and humanitarian support.
“The Marrakech meeting declared its recognition of the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and this is a big political support reflecting the international community’s confidence in the new leadership,” the OIC chief said.
In a related development, Ihsanoglu disclosed plans to intensify humanitarian activities for Syrian people through a coalition of 30 relief organizations.
“We are now in contact with Turkey to open a humanitarian office in the country to follow the condition of Syrian refugees and coordinate relief work,” the secretary-general said.
Referring to the armed groups in Mali, he said: “We are totally against exploiting Islam for killing and terrorizing people. We have appointed an envoy to deal with Malian crisis.”


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

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)
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, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • 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.”