Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far

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Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki of the Interior Ministry, left, and Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami of the Traffic Department at the press conference. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
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A Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry spokesperson says the Ministry of Interior has established six driving schools for women in different regions of the Kingdom. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2018

Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far

  • Six specialized driving schools have been issued licenses to train women in driving in five cities across the Kingdom.
  • Twenty-two centers have been opened in 22 cities and governorates to exchange foreign driving licenses for local ones for Saudi female citizens and residents.

RIYADH:  The Saudi government is doing everything to ensure safe driving, with regulations, laws and punishments applied equally to men and women without discrimination, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said on Sunday.

He said the ministry has received more than 120,000 applications for driving licenses so far and demand is still very high.

“Our preparation for this historic day started after the issuance of the royal decree,” Al-Turki said in a press conference. “We took into consideration the general safety of the traffic across the country.” 

There has been a huge effort put in to reduce the number of accidents, and to address the lack of driving experience among Saudi women, he added.

Al-Turki stressed that: “Six specialized driving schools have been issued licenses to train women in driving in five cities across the Kingdom. Four of these schools have already started operations and the fifth one in Qassim is nearing completion.

“Furthermore, we had already prepared 22 centers in 22 cities and governorates to exchange foreign driving licenses for local ones for Saudi female citizens and residents. We also intensified the use of technology on roads to ensure the ideal execution of all safety measures. We were keen to provide the technology needed to identify female drivers while driving (identifying her without asking her to remove her cover if she is covering).

“We trained 40 Saudi women for traffic checking (field checking) and they will start working within a few weeks as investigation assistants for investigating accidents,” he said. 

The Interior Ministry spokesman said: “Very strict harassment legislation was issued before the implementation of women driving; actually this legislation was issued to stand against harassment in all its forms and in all places, including the ones that can happen on road, and protect everyone, not only women, in the society from this brutal action.

“We took a very important step and I can safely say that we succeeded in achieving all the objectives we had nine months ago to ensure safe driving for everyone. We equally trust both females and males in sticking to the regulations and safety measures.”

The director general of the Traffic Department, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami, said his department had sent a number of police officers overseas to get trained on how to investigate car accidents, and since their return, they have been training their peers across the country. 

“We have developed an online site to specify dates for license exchange and have also developed an identity verification system. We closely cooperated with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to improve insurance packages and regulations. A strong database has been developed; speed limit signs, radars and CCTV are increased.

“We will announce the readiness of more cities and governorates to train women in more driving schools by next week,” Al-Bassami said.

When asked about the possibility of foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia to rent a car, Al-Turki said: “Yes, definitely, she only has to have a license and then she can.”

Asked whether any accidents or violations had been recorded, he said: “No. Besides, it is too early to start issuing figures. We have noticed in the past few hours that women are very responsible and aware.”

The speakers said that the authorities were studying the possibility of raising fines in order to reduce deaths and accidents.

Asked about the fine when catching an unlicensed woman driving, Al- Bassami said: “What applies for male drivers will definitely apply to females. Equal treatment for both.”

It also becomes a woman’s right to rent a car or make business related to buying, selling and renting cars. He added that Saudi women must immediately exchange their foreign driving license while a female visitor’s case will depend on her paperwork and residence duration. However, they commented that some women who had foreign driving license did not pass the driving test in Saudi Arabia, which is a sign that the Kingdom is following highest standards to ensure safe driving. 


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 15 September 2019

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.