Saudi women seek driving licenses in UAE

Updated 05 May 2013

Saudi women seek driving licenses in UAE

Dubai traffic police are seeing an increase in the number of Saudi women seeking to obtain drivers’ licenses in the city and other cities within the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai Chief of Police Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan said police are receiving driving-license applications from Saudi women wanting to drive in Dubai and other cities, although he noted the number of requests are not particularly high.
He said Saudi women possessing driving licenses are permitted to drive in Dubai.
Although the number of Saudi women seeking to drive outside the Kingdom is relatively low, there is an increased interest to get behind the wheel. In fact, more and more Saudi husbands and fathers are supportive of the idea because it means convenience for the families and independence for their wives and daughters.
A 27-year-old Saudi living in Dubai discovered that learning to drive was difficult, but that she had to do it.
“When I first moved here, I used to rely on my husband and taxis to get around the city, but then my husband prodded me to enrol at a driving school to get my license,” she said. “At first, I found it difficult and could not get over my fear and learn quickly. Had I learnt how to drive at an early age, it would have been easier.”
Huda Jazzar, 30, is another Saudi who was embarrassed to confront her non-Arab friends about not being able to drive.
“I am always asking my friends to pick me up and drop me off when I go to Dubai almost every week,” Jazzar said. “I spent so much money on taxis and metros that I set aside a special budget just for that. I decided to enroll in the driving school in Dubai.”
Saudi women also head to Bahrain to receive driving instructions and exams.
“My father taught me how to drive at the age of 16 because he said I might need it someday, said Afaf Al-Yafi, a 28-year-old lecturer. “I remember he used to take me for a ride everyday after sunset in our neighborhood in Dammam. For my 21st birthday, my father drove me to Bahrain and applied for the driving school there and I got my license that I now use internationally, especially when I take my children to Bahrain for a weekend. I must say, this is the best gift anyone could have given me.”
Saudi women need to take the initiative and learn how to drive, according to Sabria Jawhar, a Saudi newspaper columnist who wrote about Saudi women driving issues in the international press.
“We live at an age where Saudi women work in the Shoura Council and we are witnessing a boom in the labor market. All we need is to be independent from our drivers,” Jawhar said.
“I sometimes wonder why don’t we just go for it, like the time King Faisal opened educational institutes for women and told his people it is optional for them to enroll,” adding, “If this issue is only being delayed because society is rejecting it, then they shouldn’t we open driving schools and leave it up to society to decide if they want to send their girls to learn or not.”
Jawhar said she is not surprised to see women flying to other countries to learning to drive elsewhere.
“This is a skill that everyone may need at one time or another. We all need to learn how to drive in case of emergency and women are taking the initiative to sit behind the wheel and learn,” she said.
“They are getting a license because their own country is not providing them with one so they are pushing them to go somewhere else.”
Jawhar noted that if there is “nothing from a religious point of view against driving,” then there isn’t anything preventing women from driving.


G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era

Updated 20 October 2020

G20 thinkers consider migration issues and youth unemployment in the COVID-19 era

  • Think 20 engagement group discusses the challenges facing migrants, and ways in which they might be overcome

JEDDAH: Members of the G20’s Think 20 (T20) engagement group on Tuesday discussed migration, ways to tackle youth unemployment, and how innovative policies and programs to encourage cross-generational engagement might be developed.

The webinar for the T20’s Task Force 9 on Migration and Young Societies was hosted in cooperation with Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. The participants included representatives of research centers, government bodies and civil-society organizations.

The event featured two panel discussions that focused on the ways in which migration might shape the future, and how new digital platforms will affect the experiences of migrants, women and children.

During her opening speech, Princess Maha bint Mishari, the lead co-chair of the task force, emphasized the severity of the demographic challenges faced by societies and migrants, and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on “already vulnerable” groups. She said the challenges facing young people, women and migrants have been heightened by economic and educational shutdowns, closed borders and lack of healthcare infrastructure in many places.

She also noted that under King Salman, Saudi Arabia has made remarkable and unprecedented progress on many levels, politically, socially, economically and developmentally.

“These achievements are the pillars of the Vision 2030 reform program, (and show) that the Saudi leadership is committed to its pledge to build a state for the future and consolidate its position in the G20,” she said.

Paolo Magri, the executive vice president and director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, said that efforts to address migration issues require a multilateral approach involving countries of origin, transit and destination.

“This is especially true in light of the rising disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “On migration, the pandemic has been a source of disruption in migration channels, the international agenda and capacity. These three major disruptions might endanger the prospects of improving migration governance.”

Amal El-Ouassif, a specialist in international relations at the Policy Center for the New South, discussed trends in African migration, changes caused by the pandemic, and the lessons that can be learned from experiences during the health crisis.

“It is important to understand what we expect in the near future,” she said. “Intro-African migration will predominantly remain within the continent, as 80 percent of migration happens within the continent.”

She added that G20 countries have a vested interest in African migration issues because much of the migration in Africa is to countries that are G20 members.

Fahad Al-Sharif, a senior research fellow at King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, highlighted some of the factors that have affected global migration over time, including early movements of humans, the two world wars, and now the pandemic.

“Many types of migrations have emerged through time, depending on the geographic, socioeconomic and push-and-pull factors,” he said. “For example, forced migrations caused by civil wars, natural disasters and ethic cleansing, among many other things.”

He also discussed legal and seasonal migrations, as well as undocumented migrants and issue of migration during the pandemic.

“Countries should deliver policies in support of irregular migrants,” Al-Sharif said. “Even though COVID-19 proved our unpreparedness and vulnerability, it also created a new opportunity for us, as individuals and countries, to engage in finding new, creative, compassionate and usable policies to face the future.”

He also offered some recommendations for ways in which the needs of undocumented migrants can be better addressed in the COVID-19 era.

“We should increase trust between these communities and health authorities,” he said. “We also need to assure communities that their members will not face any punishment.

“We also have to implement a system that allows undocumented migrants to call emergency services without the threat of retaliation. Moreover, we need to develop more robust and long-term cooperation with foreign embassies to facilitate the identification of undocumented migrants and their presence in their countries.”

The webinar concluded with a speech by Ziad Eyadat, the director of the Center for Strategic Studies, and closing remarks by Fahad Al-Turki, chair of the T20.

Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year and the group’s annual summit is due to be held in Riyadh in November. The T20, a network of think tanks and researchers, is one of several independent G20 engagement groups led by organizations from the host country. They focus on different sections and sectors of society and work to develop policy recommendations that will be presented to G20 leaders for consideration.

The Migration and Young Societies task force focuses on finding ways to develop skills and opportunities among young people, and encourage macroeconomic and microeconomic policies that address high youth unemployment, demographic changes, economic growth and the reform of social systems.

It is one of 11 T20 task forces working to develop research and policy recommendations on issues such as economic development, climate change, women and youth, technology and innovation, multilateralism, financing, food security, access to water, and methods of solving complex problems. They operate under the presidency of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, and King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.