Women Views: Saudi society is now ready to see women drive

Saudi women celebrate after they drove their cars in the eastern city of Alkhobar early Sunday. (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)
Updated 24 June 2018

Women Views: Saudi society is now ready to see women drive

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is undergoing a huge socioeconomic transformation. Granting women the right to drive is part of the drive to ensure sustainable economic development. 

Women in the Kingdom are pretty excited by this decision. Arab News spoke to four women of different age groups with different educational backgrounds to gauge their views on this issue. 

 

Wijdan Saleh, 34, artist

“I can finally drive. It will enhance the quality of my life. I believe that our society is now ready for this change. This is more than enough. The authorities have laid the groundwork for the effective implementation of this decision by organizing awareness campaigns on women driving and workshops to educate women about different aspects of driving and maintenance of vehicles etc. In addition, strict laws are now in place to prevent harassment. Insurance companies are also offering discounts for women. There are lucrative leasing options for cars as well. Now only one thing is left: Seeing women driving in Saudi Arabia.

 

Nourah Al-Hajri, 29

“I believe that women are ready. The majority of men support their female relatives in this regard. The society on the whole is supporting the idea. That means we, women, should start driving at the earliest. In my opinion, there is no valid reason for me to postpone driving for even a day. We have been waiting for this historic change in our society for so long because it will shape a new culture where women are independent and part of the development of our country. I believe women aged 35 and above will be the first ones to start driving immediately while the younger ones are likely to follow suit a few months later. Perhaps, some of them would like to know how it goes and others are holding back because their families asked them to wait for some time.”  

 

Om Saleh Abdullah, a mother of five

“All my daughters are below 30. I want them to wait for a while. I think they don’t have enough knowledge about car maintenance. However, if they wait some time, they will learn from other women’s experiences and benefit from them. Furthermore, the historic decree was issued last year, but the implementation took time. I prefer to let my daughters wait until our society gets used to seeing women driving. In my opinion, this will take 3-6 months. I want them to start driving when it is completely normal, it is a new thing and it takes few months till it becomes a routine thing to see women driving on their own.”

 

Heba Ahmed, 27, translator

“I prefer to start driving after a few months. The only reason for this delay is that I discontinued my driving training due to a huge number of women learners. At that time, the number of instructors was limited as compared to the number of women willing to attend the training. I will restart my training once things calm down and training institutes become less crowded. People usually run after new ideas but the excitement comes down as the novelty of an idea wears off. I think I will wait for six months to begin my driving lessons again.”

 

 

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Organizers promise ‘exceptional’ Saudi National Day celebrations

Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

Organizers promise ‘exceptional’ Saudi National Day celebrations

  • We are keen to have the largest international events to create an exceptional season, says GEA CEO Amr Banaja

RIYADH: Fireworks, concerts, festivals and international performances will be among the highlights of the 89th Saudi National Day celebrations this year.

The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has announced a season of record-breaking events for the annual celebration.

At a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday, GEA CEO Amr Banaja said that Saudi citizens and residents can enjoy a number of entertainment activities planned across 13 regions of the Kingdom as part of the National Day season being supervised by the GEA from Sept. 19 to 23.

“The GEA is proud to oversee the Saudi National Day Season activities by launching a unified identity that brings together the society under “Himma Hatta El-Qimmah,” Banaja said, inspired by the words of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: “The Saudis’ strength is like that of the Tuwaiq mountain.”

The GEA was proud to be overseeing the occasion, Banaja said. “We are keen to have the largest international events to create an exceptional season befitting this dear country,” he said.

“This year fireworks celebrations will continue for several days where more than 700,000 shots will be fired at an altitude of up to 300 meters, accompanied by music,” he said.

Celebrations will be held in all regions during the season, and visitors will be able to enjoy a range of activities that reflected the unity of the nation and the cohesion of the people and leadership.

“Distinctive international shows designed especially for the National Day will be held in Riyadh from Sept. 21-23,” he said.

Fireworks will light up Jeddah over Al-Hamra Corniche accompanied by sound and light effects and laser shows.

At the five-day Dhahran Exhibition in Dammam starting on Sept. 19, the world’s largest theatrical producer “Cirque du Soleil” will present a specially designed show for Saudi National Day.

Forty artists will present 14 shows of acrobatics, sports, music, and dance. Eight concerts will also be held in a number of regions where, besides international stars, Saudi and Gulf artists will present patriotic songs.

The concerts will begin on the first day of the season on Sept. 19 at Al-Jouf University Stadium in Sakaka with performances by Khaled Abdulrahman and Nabil Shuail.

The next day, a concert will be held at King Khalid Sport City in Tabuk staged by artists Abdullah Al-Rowaished and Aseel Abu Bakr.

On Sept. 21, Majid Al-Mohandes and Dalia Mubarak will perform at Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Musaed Stadium in Hail.

On Sept. 22, two concerts will be performed at King Abdullah Sports City in Buraidah by artists Rashid Al-Majid and Balqees Fathi; the second at Prince Sultan Cultural Center in Jazan by “The Artist of Arabs” Mohammed Abdo and Turki.

On Saudi National Day (Sept. 23), three concerts will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Thousands will gather at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh to listen to singers Hussein Al-Jasmi and Abadi Al-Jawhar.

In Jeddah, Rabeh Saqr and the artist Waad will perform at King Abdullah Sports City, while in Dammam, and in the Green Halls in Riyadh, Kuwaiti singer Nawal and the artist Ayed will entertain the audience.

Five forums will take place in five cities, where a number of speakers will present inspirational events.

Forums will be held in Madinah and Tabuk on Sept. 19, while in Abha and Buraidah the forum will be held on Sept. 21 and in Hail on Sept. 23.

Banaja said that the GEA had created 150 smartphone apps for the National Day celebrations with 40,000 downloaded so far.

He thanked the security authorities for their efforts to make the season a success, and all government, private and nonprofit sectors for their contribution.

The programs were mostly free, he said, though there were some concerts for which tickets could be purchased online.

There will also be a major aero show in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province, and a Saudi falcon show will be organized in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.