Sunday, December 17, 2017

Women driving in Saudi Arabia: Important questions answered

On December 17, 2017 the Arab News published this story with information about women driving. The graphic showing the economic benefits is very powerful, and I agree with the assessment that on an economic basis alone, the change in the law makes good sense. It will encourage families to start small businesses and also to circulate money inside the kingdom rather than sending it abroad. A link to the story is here and the story is pasted in below.



JEDDAH: The General Department of Traffic (GDT) and commanders of road security forces have prepared everything needed to enable the GDT to perform its duties when women start to drive in the Kingdom.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published answers offered by the GDT to many questions regarding procedures and regulations relating to implementation of the decision allowing women to drive.
Valid driving licenses obtained from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can be replaced by corresponding Saudi licenses, the GDT said.
Holders of valid and recognized international licenses will be exempt from a driving test. Foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia can use their recognized licenses for one year in the Kingdom as long as they remain valid.
The minimum age for receiving driving licenses for private cars or motorcycles is 18 years, while the minimum age for receiving licenses for public transport and public work vehicles is 20 years, the GDT said. Seventeen-year-olds can get provisional licenses for one year only.
Women can work as civilian personnel at road security checkpoints and security control jobs, the GDT said, adding that this is not a new development because women have previously been employed at checkpoints at entrances to Makkah during Hajj.
The task of women working at security checkpoints and patrol centers will mainly deal with violators and road users as requested — such as checking IDs, inspections and arrests — with the possibility of being transferred in the future to the uniformed police force after undergoing special training.
Regarding traffic violations or accidents involving female drivers, the GDT said there is coordination between the ministries of interior and labor and social development to use women care centers as detention centers if necessary.
Recruiting foreign women to work as drivers is subject to the regulations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the GDT added.
There will be no discrimination between male and female drivers, the department said. Women will be allowed to drive trucks and ride motorcycles as long as they meet the stated requirements.
They will not be prevented from driving outside cities and towns, and cars owned by women will not be issued special license plates or special numbers.

License for women to drive trucks, motorcycles

As the weeks pass and the time approaches for Saudi and other women living in Saudi Arabia to begin driving legally, word has come out that women will be able to drive trucks and motorcycles too.  Non-Saudi women with international drivers licenses will be able to take to the wheel for up to a year from the date the new law goes into effect in June, 2018.

A link to a December 17, 2017 story from the Saudi Gazette is here and the text is pasted in below. Note: rural women in Saudi Arabia have driven trucks and cars for years, where there families and local communities long supported it.


JEDDAH — Women will be allowed to drive trucks as long as they comply with traffic regulations, the General Directorate of Traffic announced on Friday.

Women will also get licenses to ride motorcycles as per a Royal decree announced in September, which comes into effect in June 2018.

The General Directorate of Traffic stated that women with international driving licenses will be allowed to drive in the Kingdom without the need to go to local driving schools.

Women with licenses from Gulf countries can convert these to Saudi licenses.

Women visiting the Kingdom with international driving licenses will also be able to drive for one year before needing to apply for a Saudi license.

If an international driving license expires in less than a year from the date a Saudi woman arrives in the Kingdom, she will need a Saudi driving license before the expiry of her international license.

The General Directorate of Traffic said it complies with strict anti-harassment laws that will not tolerate any harassment of female drivers.

Women will be employed at different traffic checkpoints. The General Directorate of Traffic will also recruit women field inspectors.

The directorate has also cooperated with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to make arrangements for women who violate traffic laws to be detained at women care centers.

There will be no discrimination between men and women when it comes to implementing traffic laws and regulations.

Licenses to drive vehicles in private and secured areas are granted at the age of 18 and licenses to drive in public areas and to operate public service vehicles are granted at the age of 20.

In a historic decision, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Sept. 26, 2017, issued orders to grant driving licenses to women in the Kingdom.

The Royal order will come into force on June 24, 2018.

The King directed Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif to constitute a high-level ministerial committee to carry out studies about the necessary arrangements to implement the Royal decree.

The committee will comprise representatives of the ministries of interior, finance and labor and social development.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SR11.6 million ($3.1 million) spent by Saudi women to obtain driving licenses in three countries

The December 6, 2017 Arab News reported the following. A link to the story is here  and the text is below.

 JEDDAH: (December 6, 2017) Saudi daily Al-Watan, according to its sources, said that the number of driving licenses obtained by Saudi women from the UAE, Bahrain and Jordan has reached 7,550 licenses with a total cost of SR11.627 million ($3.1 million) — or SR1,540 for each license.
The women obtained their licenses after attending training courses for 22 hours, as well as passing compulsory tests.
Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University (IMSIU) in Riyadh organized the first forum on women’s driving, with female members of the Shoura Council, to discuss the importance of driving for women. The forum will be followed by workshops at the university to educate female students and raise their awareness about driving.
The decision to allow women to drive in the Kingdom will come into effect in June 2018.
The spokesman for (IMSIU), Ahmed Al-Rakban, told Al-Watan: “We appreciate what the university has been doing for women who will start driving next year. An agreement has been signed between the university and the General Department of Traffic in this respect, and the director general of traffic visited the university and discussed the issue with many engineering and safety specialists,” Al-Rakban said.
Al-Rakban also noted that driving schools for women have been established at many universities, and there may be other schools outside universities to enable female students and staff to easily get their driving licenses.
To obtain a driving license in the Kingdom, applicants should:
• Be at least 18 years old for a private license/20 years old for a public license
• Have no drug-related convictions
• Be healthy
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the prescribed fees
• Have legal residence in the Kingdom (for non-Saudis)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Saudi to Deploy Female Officers for Women Involved in Road Accidents

This story is a bit stale - from October 22, 2017. One of many stories coming out now about the logistics of women starting to drive officially in Saudi Arabia next year. It was originally published in the Arab News, but I'm reprinting from Al-Bawaba. A link to the story is here and it's printed below:

Arrangements are being made by the General Traffic Department to deploy women officials to attend to Saudi women drivers involved in road accidents.
The arrangements are being made in view of the recent royal order issued by King Salman on issuing driving licenses to men and women alike.
In a statement, Najm for Insurance Services Co. announced its readiness to support the implementation of the royal decree by initiating a customized program that highlights the role of Saudi women in managing traffic accidents.
As per the directions of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the General Traffic Department and Najm will develop a process of accommodating and serving Saudi females involved in road accidents and helping them finalize the required legal procedures.
The statement added that since its establishment, Najm has been keen to support the development process in Saudi Arabia, now working in line with Vision 2030.
 Najm, through its operational strategy, is continuously developing its services by applying an integrated solutions framework and utilizing digital services to meet the demands of their clients to ensure a quick response.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Coke Campaign Showing Saudi Woman Learning to Drive Doesn’t Please Everyone

Branding in Asia Magazine printed this article by Asia Ad Junkie on 11/13/2017 about a Coke ad about a Saudi father teaching his daughter to drive. It has stirred up some controversy. A link to the article is here and the article is pasted below.

Starting in June 2018, women in Saudi Arabia will be officially allowed to take the wheel for themselves and drive a car.
While the time has not yet arrived, a Coca-Cola campaign spot showing a Saudi father teaching his daughter how to drive has gone viral on social media.
The ad, dubbed “Change has a taste”, is backed by the song “I Got That Feeling” by Highland Park Collective and, as one would expect, has the product saving the day.




The ad has also received its fair share of criticism for commercializing social progress.
“These companies think it is OK to take something and make it a brand,” said Amina Awartani, a student activist from Qatar, in an interview with Newsweek. “And not just anything, women in Saudi Arabia have been and still are fighting patriarchal oppression on a daily basis.”
“They not only include themselves in a struggle they have nothing to do with, but they’re literally using it to their own advantage so that they can make money,” she added – from her Qatar.
Some even compared the spot to the disastrous Pepsi ad in April featuring Kendall Jenner offering a police officer a Pepsi during a protest. Pepsi was harshly slammed by critics who accused the company of exploiting social issues to sell a product.
Coke’s representative in the region, Omar Bennis, responded to the criticism, also to Newsweek, saying:

“Coca-Cola is continuing its legacy of celebrating positive social and cultural change in its advertising campaigns by releasing a topical and timely ad in the Middle East. The campaign touches on the brand’s values surrounding diversity and inclusion and aligns with Coca-Cola’s commitment to enable the economic empowerment of women.”

Our take?

Sure, Coke is using the ad to sell sugar water and it is unabashedly inserting its brand into the middle of a controversial social issue.
However, unlike the Pepsi disaster, this is celebrating a special moment between a father and his daughter within the context of a country amid ongoing social change.
Carry on.

No immediate driving licenses in Saudi Arabia ... all must attend courses

The Arab News is reporting that every woman who would like a driver's license has to take a driving course. Apparently it was believed that some experienced drivers would be able to get their licenses right away. This is from the Nov 13, 2017 Arab News. A link to the story is here,  and the text is pasted below. 

RIYADH: The director general of Traffic Department, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Bassami, announced the cancelation of the immediate test for a driving license, and said that those who wish to obtain licenses must attend training courses.

“Those who wish to obtain a new driving license and are not good at driving should attend a 90-hour training course, while those who are good at driving should attend a 30-hour training course,” Al-Bassami said in a press statement to Saudi Press Agency on Monday.

Additionally, 120-hour training courses will be available.

(note from blogger: when I post a story like this, I think back to all the years I've been posting stories on the issue of women driving. In those days I could only dream of a news story like this!)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Saudi groom leaves wedding after bride's father insists she drives

The Daily Mail in the UK and other outlets are reporting on this story. This version is from the News of Bahrain, reprinted from the Daily Mail. Dateline 10/10/17. A link to the story in the Bahrain Times is here.

RiyadhA groom in Saudi Arabia walked out of his own wedding ceremony after the bride’s father insisted that his daughter be allowed to drive after their marriage.
The bride’s father had demanded that his daughter get a driving license and a car when Saudi Arabia lifts its ban on women driving in June 2018.
The groom, who had agreed to a dowry of 40,000 riyals ($10,666) as well as letting his soon-to-be wife continue working after getting married, was so surprised by the additional demand that he left the ceremony.
The father’s request was made just minutes before the religious wedding ceremony was set to begin, according to Al-Marsd.
The groom quickly rejected the request and walked out of the building, leaving his family behind.
He then asked his cousins to bring dinner to his fiancee’s family, but did not participate in the feast.
Last month, Saudi Arabia lifted its long-criticized ban on women driving. The lift will go into effect in June 2018.
The historic decision to allow women to drive won plaudits internationally and inside the kingdom last month.
King Salman’s decree, which takes effect next June, is part of an ambitious reform push that runs the risk of a backlash from religious hardliners.
US President Donald Trump welcomed the decision as ‘a positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities of women in Saudi Arabia’.
British Prime Minister Theresa May hailed it as an ‘important step towards gender equality’.
Saudi Arabia will use the ‘preparatory period’ until June to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new motorists, state media said.
With more than half the country aged under 25, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son and the architect of the reforms, is seen as catering to the aspirations of youths.

DailyMail