Allowing women to drive will create 50,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia

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During the event, women were urged to invest in the great transformations society is witnessing, through active participation and taking advantage of the series of historic decisions issued by the government.(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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AN photo by Huda Bashatah
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AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Updated 11 July 2018

Allowing women to drive will create 50,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia

  • The leadership of women will contribute to providing a large number of job opportunities
  • The Saudi government aim to achieve social justice by enhancing the role of women

JEDDAH: A two-day forum targeting 20,000 women and bringing together under one roof all the services related to women driving began on Sunday.
Specialists at the forum expect that lifting the ban on women driving will create more than 50,000 jobs after a year.
The event, titled “You Take the Lead,” was inaugurated at Leylaty Hall by Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
Six bodies related to women’s driving services and facilitation are participating, including the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Media, with the strategic partnership of Traffic Management, the Saudi Committee of Traffic Safety and the Standardization Committee, in addition to automobile dealers, banks, insurance companies and logistical service providers.
The program of the first day of the event included seminars by distinguished speakers discussing the economic effects of Saudi women driving, penalties for obstructing women from driving, how lifting the ban on women driving will create new jobs for women, the negative aspects of depending on expat drivers, and finally the success story of the first Saudi female rally driver.
The prince said that the decisions taken by the Saudi government aim to achieve social justice by enhancing the role of women as they represent half of the community, and are a main component to achieve economic growth according to the strategies set out in Vision 2030.
He called on Saudi women to invest in the great transformations society is witnessing, through active participation and taking advantage of the series of historic decisions issued by the government to support Saudi women. The prince expected that the leadership of women will contribute to providing a large number of job opportunities and help women enter the labor market, achieving one of the pillars of Vision 2030, with is to raise the participation rate of women from 22 to 30 percent.
President of the forum’s organizing company Suhail Al-Tayyar stressed that they work through the forum to raise awareness of the role of women in the country’s economic, social and cultural development, in addition to providing quality services, creating job opportunities, and making the best conditions for women. He also revealed the requirements of women’s leadership as a key partner in the community and the role of car dealers in the provision of facilities and technology in vehicles and accessories for women, as well as the banking and insurance sector services.
The managing editor of Al-Bilad newspaper and Aqra’a magazine, Manal Al-Sherif, spoke about the economic and social disadvantages of depending on expat drivers, and how to deal with them.
When Rasha Imam, the first Saudi rally driver, spoke about her experience and success, she said she was thrilled with the lifting the ban on women driving as she will be able to represent her country in many competitions.
She plans to move forward to participate in Arab and global races, noting that she received a degree in business administration from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and works in the field of marketing and public relations. She has benefited from traveling abroad with her family to learn to drive and master a lot of leadership skills.
Basma Khazneh, driving trainer and one of the invited guests at the forum, told Arab News: “When I first came to Saudi Arabia 22 years ago I was shocked that women were not able to drive, and now I am very happy that my dream came true and I can finally drive in Saudi Arabia.
“I already have public and private vehicle driving licenses, and also an international driving license, and I would be very glad to have the chance to train Saudi women.”
Samia Basha, 34, an attendee at the forum, told Arab News: “I am here to look at the offers car dealers are providing for us. I cannot wait to get my license and set off!
“We have waited too long,” she added.


US court orders Iran to pay $879m to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 58 min 47 sec ago

US court orders Iran to pay $879m to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

JEDDAH: A US federal court has held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered it to pay $879 million to survivors.

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Alkhobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex. It killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national, wounding 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon.

A Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar said that imposing monetary fines was insufficient.

“One can understand monetary fines in the case of their ‘accidental’ shooting down of a civilian aircraft recently, but in these terrorist bombings, there should be a military response,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “A response that should be a deterrent. A response that should stop Iran from committing such acts of terror. Iran should not be allowed to get away by merely paying a couple of million dollars.” 

He said that this attack was not the only one that had been carried out by Iran and its militias. “They have been responsible for many such bombings and assassinations. We know how they assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. They are yet to be punished for that heinous crime.”

He said there was no doubt about the direct involvement of Iran in that bombing. “It is good to know that the US court has confirmed what we knew all along and it is good that Iran has been finally held accountable.” 

Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said: “This is further evidence that Iran is a major state sponsor of terrorism, a destabilizing force, and is engaged in financial, political and military support for militias and designated terrorist groups across the Middle East and in the West, with the aim of exporting its extremist ideals through terror, expanding its influence and achieving its hegemonic ambitions.”


 

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READ MORE: 45 Moments that changed the Middle East - The bombing of Khobar Towers

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The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.

 


The court also said the plaintiffs were eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons.

The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing. “More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that.” 

According to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, which also represents the bombing victims, the explosion had taken “so much from their minds and bodies” on the day of the attack and every day and night since then. “They can now live with that balance justice provides,” he said.