Riyadh-Dammam train travel picks up speed

Updated 02 August 2012
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Riyadh-Dammam train travel picks up speed

 

DAMMAM: Activity at the train stations in Riyadh and Dammam has become hectic as the number of Saudi and expatriate commuters between the two cities has increased dramatically.
To some Arab and Asian expatriates, these aesthetically built stations, buzzing as they are with activity, are a familiar sight. They resemble train stations in their own countries such as Egypt, India and Pakistan.
Regular commuters including women told Arab News trains remain the most preferred mode of transport for people traveling between Dammam and Riyadh.
The recent train derailment that led to a number of injuries has had little or no effect on passenger confidence or rail traffic.
Ibrahim Rizq, an Egyptian executive working for a major furniture group, said: “I frequently take the train to Dammam from Riyadh and vice versa for my business trips. I consider this to be the safest mode and so far by the grace of Allah I have had no problems.”
Rizq knows full well about the recent accident, but played the incident down. “Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime, but I think, and you’ll agree with me, that the highways are far more dangerous than the train tracks.”
Rizq gets angry with the limousine drivers that drive on the Riyadh-Dammam highway. “They are mad and drive you crazy. They simply love putting the pedal down.”
Rahman Abdul Sattar, a Pakistani expatriate, agrees with Rizq’s description of limousine drivers on the highways. He said: “They want to make as many trips between Dammam and Riyadh as they can in a day so they can make more money. So they try to cover the distance of 400 km in just two hours.”
Mohammad Ilyas, a young IT assistant at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh, was on the train to Riyadh from Dammam on Friday. Referring to the special compartment for families, he said: “These trains are luxurious and offer full security to the womenfolk.
“I had to travel to Dammam to drop my sister and her children and for me taking the train was the best possible option. I can’t think of getting into a private taxi with my sister and children. What if the taxi breaks down in the middle of the highway?”
Mohammed Nasser Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi Aramco employee, is a regular train commuter and told Arab News such journeys are like stress-busters. “I love conversations, and on these trains you usually meet interesting people. I get a kick out of talking to people and knowing about them and their culture," he said.
 


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 12 min 50 sec ago
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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.”