Meet Gaza’s first woman taxi driver

Meet Gaza’s first woman taxi driver
The first female Palestinian taxi driver in the Gaza Strip, Nayla Abu Jubbah, 39, sits at her vehicle as she works in Gaza City on November 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Meet Gaza’s first woman taxi driver

Meet Gaza’s first woman taxi driver
  • In the impoverished Palestinian territory, women have the same legal rights as men to drive a vehicle

GAZA: Palestinian mother-of-five Nayla Abu Jubbah launched a small revolution this week by becoming the first female taxi driver in the deeply conservative Gaza Strip. 

In the impoverished Palestinian territory, women have the same legal rights as men to drive a vehicle, but in practice the trade of taxi driver has been exclusively male — until now. 

“One day I was talking with a friend who works as a hairdresser and I said to her: ‘What would you say if we started a taxi service for women?’ She said it was a crazy idea,” the 39-year-old told AFP. 

The Israeli-blockaded territory was suffering 50 percent unemployment even before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After drinking a steaming cup of tea in her home, the social work graduate in a headscarf puts on a face mask and marches to her car parked outside. 

After slotting her smartphone into its holder and giving a toot on the horn for show, she starts the engine and is off on the roads of Gaza, where the Islamist Hamas movement has ruled for more than 13 years. 

Abu Jubbah does not cruise the streets for fares, taking only advance bookings. 

“I leave my home and I will pick up my clients, to bring them for example from the hairdressing salon to a wedding,” she says. 

She bought the vehicle with her inheritance when her father died. 

“I said to myself one day that I needed to take advantage of the car, to put it to work,” she said. “Hence the project of a taxi service entirely for women, to put them at ease.” 

Today she is driving through the streets of Gaza City to pick up 27-year-old Aya Saleem for a shopping trip. 

“We live in a conservative society. So when I saw that there was a taxi company especially for women ... I felt a kind of freedom,” says Saleem. 

She wears a long brown tunic, beige headscarf and a pale blue mask and carries a stylish bag. 

“When I’m with a woman, I feel comfortable ... I feel freer and then we can talk,” she says, adding that women’s taxi services are in line with sharia, the Islamic code which Hamas promotes in the Gaza Strip. 

Saleem is delighted with the idea and hopes to see more female taxi drivers on Gaza’s roads soon. 

Abu Jubbah says she wants to expand her business. 

“A woman called me recently to tell me that she wanted to work as a taxi driver by my side,” she said. 

“I told her that we would talk again but I already have the feeling that the project will gain momentum.”


US imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting individual, entity

Updated 5 min 41 sec ago

US imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting individual, entity

US imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting individual, entity
  • The move comes days after the killing of the Islamic Republic's top nuclear scientist last week
  • The Treasury Department said that it had slapped sanctions on Shahid Meisami Group and its director

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions, blacklisting an entity and individual as Washington continues to ramp up pressure on Tehran during US President Donald Trump's final months in office.
The US Treasury Department in a statement said that it had slapped sanctions on Shahid Meisami Group and its director, accusing the entity of being involved in Iran's chemical weapons research and linked to the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is blacklisted by Washington.
The move comes days after the killing of the Islamic Republic's top nuclear scientist last week. Iran's supreme leader promised on Saturday to retaliate for the killing, raising the threat of a new confrontation with the West and Israel in the remaining weeks of Trump's presidency.
"Iran’s development of weapons of mass destruction is a threat to the security of its neighbors and the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
"The United States will continue to counter any efforts by the Iranian regime to develop chemical weapons that may be used by the regime or its proxy groups to advance their malign agenda," he added.
Thursday's action freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. The Treasury also said that financial institutions that facilitate significant transactions with the targeted individual and entity run the risk of being hit with US sanctions.
US Special Envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams last week said the Trump administration would continue to tighten sanctions on Iran during its final months in office, with sanctions related to arms, weapons of mass destruction and human rights expected through December and January.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen since Trump abandoned Obama's 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and restored harsh economic sanctions to pressure Tehran to negotiate deeper curbs on its nuclear program, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.
President-elect Joe Biden, set to take office on Jan. 20, has said he will return the United States to the Obama-era deal if Iran resumes compliance.