Three million Saudi women ‘on the roads by 2020’

The lifting of the ban on women driving marks a milestone for women in the Kingdom who have had to rely on drivers, male relatives, taxis and ride-hailing services to get to work, go shopping and simply move around. (AP)
Updated 07 July 2018

Three million Saudi women ‘on the roads by 2020’

  • Kingdom likely to save between SR9bn and SR12bn annually after phasing out foreign drivers
  • The employment landscape in Saudi Arabia will be transformed by the historic start to women’s driving, said a report released by the online recruitment firm GulfTalent.

RIYADH: Several Shoura members, diplomats and rights activists have hailed the landmark decision of the Saudi leadership allowing women to drive, which will cut reliance on foreign workers and boost job growth in the Kingdom. 

“It will empower women and also change the employment landscape of the country,” said Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a member of the Shoura Council.

Expressing his happiness over this historic moment, Al-Khunaizi told Arab News that “the number of expatriate drivers in the country today exceeds one million.” “The Kingdom will save between SR9 billion and SR12 billion annually after phasing out foreign drivers,” said the Shoura member, while calling the day (June 24) “the biggest day in the history of the Kingdom.”

He said that “the female driving will help create more and diverse job opportunities for women, a move which is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.” 

“In fact, a large number of Saudi women, as far as I know, have decided to drop their kids to schools, go to supermarkets and visit government offices themselves, ensuring more cohesion, security and dignity for women,” added Al-Khunaizi.  

“It is indeed a courageous step of the Saudi government and its institutions,” said the Shoura member, while referring to the support extended by Shoura Council to this decision.

Commending the decision, which is like history in the making before his own eyes, German Ambassador Dieter W. Haller said: “June 24 marks another important step on Saudi Arabia’s way to modernity. It helps the families and it will boost the Saudi economy… and we welcome it and commend the Saudi leadership for this wise decision.”

“I am very proud to witness this historic moment in the Kingdom,” said Luca Ferrari, Italian ambassador.

He said women driving is a major milestone in the implementation of “the economic and social transformation plan wisely envisaged by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

The Italian envoy, while referring to the reforms in the Kingdom, said: “Women empowerment is a crucial step toward a more inclusive society and a balanced economic growth.” 

Referring to the move, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Quayid, a founding member of the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), said women driving will boost mobility and ease pressure on family members. 

“Earlier, husbands without drivers were obliged to drive their wives if they need to go to a doctor or for shopping,” said Al-Quayid, adding that the driving by women will boost productivity.

“Most employers, at least in the public sector, accept the cultural norm, implying that driving one’s wife is a legitimate reason not to be present at work,” he added. “This makes lifting the ban on women driving an essential step by the Saudi government in order to make the Saudi economy more efficient in the long run,” he said.

In fact, the employment landscape in Saudi Arabia will be transformed by the historic start to women’s driving, said a report released by the online recruitment firm GulfTalent.

Based on the findings of a survey, the report said that “the career advancement is a major factor in empowering women, which is one of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.” 

The survey predicts driving will lead to a wave of employed women moving to more lucrative jobs in other companies or institutions.

Many of the survey respondents admitted that they previously had to settle for jobs with lower wages because of the transport constraints. “The move now will have positive implications, especially helping the women working in health and banking sectors,” said Shahzad M. Siddiqui, a senior banker, while referring to a large number of Saudi women joining banking and health sectors. 

By 2020, an estimated 3 million women are forecast to be driving in the Kingdom, according to a report compiled by audit firm PwC.

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Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.