Saudi authorities issue thousands of licenses to women since driving ban was lifted

The ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia was lifted in June, 2018. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 10 January 2019

Saudi authorities issue thousands of licenses to women since driving ban was lifted

  • Many thousands more women have said they will also apply for their licenses
  • The ban, that was lifted on June 24, was seen as a significant change in Saudi law

DUBAI: Tens of thousands of women in Saudi Arabia have received their licenses since the driving ban was lifted, according to the Kingdom’s General Director of Traffic.

So far there have been 40,000 licenses issued since the ban was lifted on June 24, 2018, after King Salman issued a royal decree on Sept. 26, 2017, ordering an end to the ban.

According a YouGov survey taken in august 2018, 24 percent of women had applied for a driving license since June 2018 when the ban was lifted, and 61 percent who hadn’t applied, said they would in the future.

“We have plans to create 14 driving schools for women in different regions to help ease the waiting list for women to get the license,” Mohammed Al-Bassami said.


World Bank: Indonesia forest fires cost $5.2bn in economic losses

Updated 26 min 6 sec ago

World Bank: Indonesia forest fires cost $5.2bn in economic losses

  • Economic losses equal to 0.5 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product
  • Drifting smoke at the height of the dry season in September triggered a diplomatic spat between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur

JAKARTA: The total damage and economic loss from forest fires in Indonesia this year amounted to at least $5.2 billion, equal to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, the World Bank said in a report on Wednesday.
The estimate was based on its assessment in eight affected provinces from June to October 2019, though analysts at the multinational bank said fires had continued to rage through to November.
“The forest and land fires, as well as the resulting haze, led to significant negative economic impacts, estimated at $157 million in direct damage to assets and $5.0 billion in losses from affected economic activities,” the World Bank wrote in the report.
Over 900,000 people reported respiratory illnesses, 12 national airports halted operations, and hundreds of schools in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore had to temporarily close due to the fires.
Drifting smoke at the height of the dry season in September triggered a diplomatic spat between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
More than 942,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) of forests and lands were burned this year, the biggest since devastating fires in 2015 when Indonesia saw 2.6 million hectares burned, according to official figures. Officials said the spike was due to El Nino weather patterns lengthening the dry season.
The World Bank also estimated a 0.09 and 0.05 percentage points reduction in Indonesia’s economic growth in 2019 and 2020, respectively, due to the fires. Its growth forecast for Indonesia is 5 percent for 2019 and 5.1 percent for 2020.
The blazes were “manmade and have become a chronic problem annually since 1997” because fire is considered the cheapest method to prepare land for cultivation, the bank said.
Because about 44 percent of the areas burned in 2019 were in peatlands, carbon emissions from Indonesia’s fires were estimated to be almost double the emissions from the fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year.
The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast estimated a total of 720 megatons of CO2 emissions came from Indonesian forest fires in January-November this year.
Longer-term effects of repeated fires were not included in this estimate, the World Bank said. Repeated haze exposure would reduce health and education quality and damage the global image of palm oil — an important commodity for Indonesia.