Hajis face shortage of buses because of Syria crisis

Updated 08 September 2012
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Hajis face shortage of buses because of Syria crisis

JEDDAH: Some 200 domestic pilgrim service companies in the Kingdom could face a major transport crisis during this Haj season due to shortage of buses caused by political problems in Syria, one of the prime sources of buses.
Saad Al-Qurashi, president of the National Haj and Umrah Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said preparations for the new Haj season were in full swing, and the companies had begun office procedures by opening registration counters.
“But they are still awaiting the Haj Ministry’s spot allocations for companies and institutions in the holy sites of Mina and Arafat,” he said. The delay in spot allocation, expected to be announced within 15 days, would affect the work of these companies, he added.
Recently, 754 Haj service companies have been merged to form 421 firms as part of efforts to improve services and reduce problems. However, some companies are still facing transport problems.
The recent developments in Syria have affected the availability of buses from that country, one of the most important and cheapest markets for buses. The Turkish market is facing shipping problems because of the border closure, the sources said.
Al-Qurashi said his committee would discuss all these problems with the Haj Ministry on Sept. 6. He hoped that buses would be imported from Egypt or other neighboring markets to solve the problem.
“If buses are not available from Turkey, the Egyptian market would be considered,” Al-Qurashi said. He ruled out resorting to the Jordanian market due to its high prices, stressing that the crisis could increase prices charged by local bus companies.

 


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
  • 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.”