What has changed since Saudi women started driving?

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Many female drivers have expressed how amazing last year was for them and how much support they get in the streets. (AFP)
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Many female drivers have expressed how amazing last year was for them and how much support they get in the streets. (AN file photo)
Updated 25 June 2019

What has changed since Saudi women started driving?

  • New-found sense of independence compensates for perceived delay in gaining the right to drive
  • It is widely believed that Saudi driving schools for women cannot keep pace with the demand

RIYADH: Today is the first anniversary of the female driving ban being lifted in Saudi Arabia, and many women are celebrating this day by talking about their journey, their moments of joy and what has changed since they started their engines. 

Today in the streets of Riyadh or Jeddah or Dammam, you will find that many women have started to exercise their right to drive, although many feel not as many as expected. 

Official numbers have yet to be released, but it is widely believed that female driving schools cannot keep up with the demand. It can take applicants several months to start their lessons at one of the schools, most of which are located within Saudi universities.

Tala Abdulfattah, a 19-year-old student at Princess Noura University (PNU), managed to enrol in driving classes one month before June 24 last year, and it took her three months to get her license. 

“It was extremely easy to enroll, probably because I was one of the first groups to register and start,” she explained. “I received the confirmation after two months (after) announcing they have opened their application page. I had to take 30 hours of classes since I had no knowledge of how to drive, and it was fine by me and worth the money and effort, but the downside of it was that each appointment was far from the other, starting with the classes and ending with the test.” 

It appears that many applicants faced the same problem of a long wait to start their training. “The enrollment itself was very easy,” said Munerah Al-Ajlan, a standardization analyst in Riyadh public hospital. While she failed to get a confirmation message, it took her six weeks to get her license from the Saudi Driving School at Princess Nourah University. “It was the technical issues and the long waiting periods that were difficult.” 

The last year has been very empowering; I could sense my independence every time I open the driver’s car door.

Munerah Al-Ajlan

 

But she said it was worth the wait. “The last year has been very empowering; I could sense my independence every time I open the driver’s car door,” Al-Ajlan said. 

Deem Al-Dekhayel, a project communication manager in Riyadh, said she found that the Saudi Driving School and traffic department were well organized once the applicants started their training.  It took her a month to get her license from the time she received the message to take the placement test. “It took longer than I expected, but once that process began, everything was professional and clear.” 

Al-Dekhayel has found that having a license is a game-changer.  “Financially I feel like we are better without a personal driver. In my situation, not only I had to pay my driver his monthly salary and benefits, but also I had to provide accommodation for him which was difficult.” 

A lot of female drivers expressed how amazing last year was for them and how much support they got in the streets. Al-Ajlan said: “I feel in control when I get in my car.”

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Munirah Nujayman, an English instructor at PNU, already had her license from abroad, so she switched it easily a month after June 24. “It took me one day to replace it with a national one,” she said.

Nujayman had her reservations about driving in her home country. “Even though I have been driving for four years abroad, I was not sure about getting my license and driving here in my country. It felt weird, and I thought that I may not be safe out there. However, after a period of time riding with Uber and comparing its cost with having my own car, I decided to go for a license and break that fear. None of my fears were true. Everything is normal, and I haven’t faced any issues except for the horrible traffic jam during the rush hour.” 

In any city, roads can be overwhelming for new drivers regardless of their gender. “It is not easy to drive in a big city like Riyadh, especially with the changing road detours for the Metro and during the rush hours,” Al-Dekhayel said. “Many drivers are not following the rules, which makes it difficult to expect their movement around you. Drivers usually act as if they are in a hurry and expect you to move aside for them.” 

Al-Ajlan, on the other hand, has been encouraged by how helpful other drivers can be. “Other drivers usually love to help (me) parking, even when it is not needed.” 

Despite the slow start, seeing female drivers on the road is certainly more common a year later, especially in major cities. Al-Ajlan said female drivers take up nearly one-third of the parking spots at her workplace.

“Now every time I go out I see one or two females on the road, I still get excited and feel happy when I see a female driving,” Tala said. 


Minister of Justice approves new bankruptcy case rules

Updated 24 sec ago

Minister of Justice approves new bankruptcy case rules

  • Justice Minister and President of the Supreme Judicial Council Dr. Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani has approved new rules regulating bankruptcy cases’ procedures in commercial courts

RIYADH: Justice Minister and President of the Supreme Judicial Council Dr. Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani has approved new rules regulating bankruptcy cases’ procedures in commercial courts.

These regulations were issued after an agreement with the Supreme Judicial Council, giving effect to provisions of paragraph III of article 97 from the executive rules of the bankruptcy system.

They were developed after a survey of the requirements of those cases’ procedures in commercial courts, exploring competent and relevant authorities’ perspectives, and benefiting from the most notable international experience.

They include 24 articles regulating the procedures for reviewing requests under the bankruptcy system and its executive rules in commercial courts. The provisions of rules included: procedures related to jurisdiction and judicial processes in bankruptcy applications, duties of the unit specialized in managing bankruptcy cases in court, procedures for submitting requests and records, suspension of demands, precautionary applications, the inspection of the application and adjudication and the mechanism for issuing rules and decisions and challenging them.

Some of the most important rules which will be enacted after being published in the official gazette are: charting the course of bankruptcy cases from presenting the application until adjudicating it, and determining the case’s timeframe while taking into account the nature of bankruptcy cases. The rules also included activating the role of the administrative unit specializing in bankruptcy cases, and benefiting from modern electronic means in processing those cases, in support of the speedy completion of bankruptcy cases and the improvement of procedural labor in commercial courts which will lead to increased efficiency in bankruptcy cases.

They are expected to have an important effect in the Kingdom’s future classification for resolving bankruptcy cases in the World Bank's annual Doing Business report.