First Saudi women with license to drive hailed as milestone on road to female empowerment

Saudi women will be allowed to drive from June 24.
Updated 06 June 2018

First Saudi women with license to drive hailed as milestone on road to female empowerment

  • In September 2017, a royal decree issued by King Salman announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving
  • Women can take their children to school and, of course, economically, it will reduce the cost of a driver at home

RIYADH: Saudi women have spoken of their excitement over the historic lifting of the ban on women driving in the week that the first 10 women in the Kingdom were issued with their driving licenses.

Commending the General Directorate of Traffic’s issuing of the first driving licenses, Hind Khalid Al-Zahid, who heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News: “This is a very positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities for women in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030.”
Al-Zahid said: ”This is not just the right thing to do for female emancipation, but also an essential step in the economic and social development under the Vision 2030 reforms.
“This historic move also sends a clear message to the world that the changes in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030 are real and significant. For Saudi women, it is another very important milestone on the road to empowerment,” she added.
Mona Salahuddin Al-Munajjed, a sociologist and the author of the book “Saudi Women: A Celebration of Success,” told Arab News that the move was a very positive step toward female emancipation. She added that it would usher in big changes in the Kingdom on both social and economic levels.
“This is wonderful news as this is a lawful right of every woman and today we are really joining 21st-century developments, it gives Saudi women more autonomy, independence and personal freedom.
“Saudi women can now share effectively the family responsibilities. They do not have to rely any more on a male driver to take them shopping to the supermarket. Women can take their children to school and, of course, economically, it will reduce the cost of a driver at home, the money which can be saved for other house expenses.”
In September 2017, a royal decree issued by King Salman announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving. At the time it was announced that a ministerial body would facilitate implementation of the order.

 


Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

Updated 3 min 34 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

RIYADH: The College of Arts and Design at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) announced the introduction of two new programs in animation and photography in the new academic year on Sunday.

The decision was made in response to the needs of the Saudi labor market and falls in line with the goals of the Vision 2030 initiative. Animation and photography join fashion and textile design, sculpture, printmaking, and graphic design and digital media as arts degrees offered by PNU.

Dr. Maha Khayyat, dean of the College of Design and Art, spoke about the programs and said that they were curated with the graduates’ working futures in mind.

“The College of Designs and Arts is keen to integrate its various specializations and the participation of the students enrolled in them in joint projects to work together, and training them to join the labor market,” said Khayyat.

The animation program will include courses on designing cartoon characters and the basics of writing films and sound. It will give graduates the skills to create animated films and to integrate into the industry on a local, regional, or even global scale. Khayyat said that the students’ work could help to highlight Saudi culture and enhance national identity.

The photography program provided students with skills in both still and moving photography. Graduates will be well-equipped to handle any type of professional photography, from product shoots and fashion shows to photojournalism.

The news was welcomed by professionals in both fields. The animation industry in Saudi Arabia has been enjoying unprecedented success this year. The hugely popular YouTube animated series Masameer, from the Saudi Myrkott studio, was adapted into a full-length feature film and played in cinemas across the Kingdom in January. Saudi animation studio Manga Productions debuted the country’s first anime series in the same month entitled “Future’s Folktales”, in collaboration with Japan’s legendary TOEI Animation studios.

Farah Arif, a senior animator at Manga Productions who studied computer science, told Arab News that it was about time studying animation became a viable option for Saudi creatives.

“I wish the opportunity had been made available to me. There’s a huge market for animators in Saudi Arabia, especially with the film industry gaining popularity. Saudi creatives finally have a chance to make a living off their art, and to pursue the study of it in their home countries. It’s a huge step forward,” she said.

She also recommends that anyone thinking of pursuing a career in the arts to do so, given the current environment and level of support from the government.

“Most of us in the industry have been successful without the relevant degrees. Imagine what you could do if you actually had one. The opportunity is there, so you can’t use the lack of a degree course as an excuse anymore. If you have the passion and the drive, go for it.”