Two arrested over arson attack on Saudi woman’s car

Two arrested over arson attack on Saudi woman’s car
Police are hunting for arsonists who torched the car of a Saudi female cashier in Makkah on Monday. (Via Social Media)
Updated 06 July 2018

Two arrested over arson attack on Saudi woman’s car

Two arrested over arson attack on Saudi woman’s car
  • Saudis throughout the country have rushed to offer support and comfort to a woman whose car was set on fire by arsonists
  • Like thousands of Saudi women, Salma Al-Sharif took to the roads when the de facto ban on women driving was lifted last month

JEDDAH: Two people were arrested and referred to public prosecutors on Wednesday after a woman’s car was set on fire by arsonists.

Authorities in Makkah said one of the men bought gasoline at a garage and asked the other to help him set the car alight.

Meanwhile Saudis throughout the country have rushed to offer support and comfort to the victim of the arson attack.

Like thousands of Saudi women, Salma Al-Sharif, 33, who works as a cashier in Makkah, took to the roads when the de facto ban on women driving was lifted last month.

But her new freedom came to an end when a neighbor knocked on her door just before dawn on Monday, and told her father her car was on fire.

Al-Sharif said the car was deliberately set alight by men “opposed to women drivers.”

She said she had faced abuse from men in her neighborhood soon after she began driving in a bid to ease her financial pressures.

“Half of my salary of 4,000 riyals was spent on a driver to take me to my workplace and drive my elderly parents,” Al-Sharif said. “But from the first day of driving I was subjected to insults from men.”

Makkah police said the incident was being investigated, and “we are searching for the culprits.”

Saudis from across the social spectrum gave Al-Sharif their support. Lina Almaeena, a Shoura Council member and one of the first Saudi women to drive, said this was an “isolated incident, definitely,” and Saudi laws were strict.

Sahar Nassif, another driver, told Arab News: “This is no more than an isolated act, it will never make society back down on women driving.  Saudi society is 100 percent ready and supportive of women driving. There is no conflict at all.

“These attackers are sick minded and they will be harshly punished by law. This is an objection to royal decisions, and a form of harassment, and I hope they receive what they deserve.”

Saudis on social media took the same view.  Manal (@mnal50) tweeted: “I pray that they get captured, jailed, and pay double the worth of the car for the psychological harm they caused her.”

Hanouf BinHimd (@DrHanouf) said on Twitter: “Where are their education, morals, ethics, religious value?! I hope she gets compensation, and those offenders get captured.”

Some even volunteered transport for Al-Sharif until justice is done. @capt_haitham said: “I am ready to get her a car until things get easier for her.”

 


Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud
Updated 25 January 2021

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, the PIF executive making Saudi women proud
  • At 16 Shihana Alazzaz fought in the courts for her family's inheritance
  • She says she hopes her success can be seen by other women as motivation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s stance on women and their place in society remains firmly under the spotlight – with many questioning if anything has changed - that’s despite the countless female engineers, managers and boardroom directors that the Kingdom so proudly boasts of.

Still not convinced?

Then consider Shihana Alazzaz, the general counsel and Secretary-General to the board at the Public Investment Fund PIF – you might recognize her.

She was the woman sitting across from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he addressed a historic meeting on Sunday night.

Women’s status in Saudi society has been on the up since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, enabling them to pursue professions and positions of power they had only previously dreamt of – and Alazzaz’s story acts as a beacon of this achievement.

Impressed by her  credentials, many took to social media to voice their appreciation of her presence at the otherwise male-dominated table.

Twitter user @ibrahimaljallal described her as “An excellent model for Saudi women. Her competitiveness at work is the same as any man.”

Alazzaz first joined PIF as the head of transactions in the legal division in 2017.

She is now a member of the management committee at PIF, as well as other executive committees in the fund.

Alazzaz also chairs and serves on several boards and board committees of PIF portfolio companies. 

Her rise to success was not an easy one.

Her father’s death in 2002 saw her in the Saudi courts at just 16-years-old where - filled with grief – she fought for her family’s inheritance.

Armed with a handwritten note by her father, she fought long and hard to fulfill her father’s final wishes - that their guardian be her mother’s brother.

Despite her hardships, she refused to be a victim, instead choosing to chase her goals, pursue her education and make her life a success.

With her mother’s support she travelled to the UK, where she achieved her bachelor’s degree in law at Durham University.

Years later in 2019 the Kingdom’s guardianship laws saw a major overhaul as part of the ongoing Vision 2030.

The changes allowed Saudi women over 21 to be allowed to apply for passports and travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.

Other changes issued in the decrees permitted women to register a marriage, divorce, or child’s birth and to be issued official family documents – and most relevantly to Alazzaz – women were equally allowed to be their children’s guardian.

Alazzaz continued with her studies and achieved her license to practice law at the Supreme Court of New York and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice.

This in itself was major achievement as women lawyers were only allowed to be granted a license to practice from 2013 by the Ministry of Justice.

Non-conformity seems to have run in her family.

Her father, Saleh Alazzaz, chose an equally unconventional career path for a Saudi, as a photographer and author – both fields previously deemed taboo in the Kingdom - having dropped out of college where he was studying engineering.

He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 40-years-old – previously seen as a healthy man - his illness shocked the family – his death 18 months later left them devastated.

Saleh was celebrated for originality, his keen eye and passion - some of his most acclaimed pieces were conceived when he was ill.

Prior to joining PIF, Alazzaz was a practicing lawyer for nine years at various international law firms where she gained exposure to legal advisory services, transactions, and litigation across multiple sectors.

She has received recognition for her work locally, regionally and internationally.

She made Forbes Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020, and received multiple awards including Finance Monthly Deal Maker Awards 2016, and the Women in Business Law award presented by the International Financial Law Review (IFLR).

In an interview with KRCL RadioActive in 2017 Shihana said, “My role is to ensure that I’m not the only one. And to ensure that I encourage a lot of other females to pursue this convoluted path.”

 “I think we’ve accomplished quite a lot in a very short period of time,” she added.