Tuesday, April 10, 2018

WATCH: Elderly Saudi woman happily sings while driving in the rain

 This story by Nadia al-Fawaz in Al Arabiya appeared on April 9, 2018. The video has gone viral.
 A link to the story is here, and the text is below.
An elderly Saudi woman expressed her joy for driving in the rain on one of the kingdom's highways by singing old folklore songs. (Screen grab)
An elderly Saudi woman expressed her joy for driving in the rain on one of the kingdom's highways by singing old folklore songs in the driver’s seat of her car. A video of the telling yet funny incident went viral on social media platforms.
The video, which was shot by the woman’s friend who was in the passenger’s seat, received a lot of attention where Twitter users noted that it shows that women can indeed control a moving vehicle, even in less-than-ideal weather situations.
Others noted the woman’s joy for driving and experiencing rain which inspired her to sing the old folkloric songs that are derived from old Saudi Arabian tribal poems that speak about the beauty of rain.
These sort of songs are meant to inspire and entertain, and are not accompanied by musical instruments, but depend on the sounds of camel footsteps.
Last Update: Monday, 9 April 2018 KSA 11:30 - GMT 08:30 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Will Saudi women drive once ban is lifted? US car companies want to find out.

Very interesting reporting from PRI's The World, dated March 26, 2018 on whether Saudi women will drive once the ban is lifted in June. A link to the story is here, and I've pasted in most of it below.  At the link you get the audio version of the story. Written by Shirin Jaafari.

Sept. 26, 2017, is a day many women in Saudi Arabia will always remember.
It's the day when King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud issued a decree granting women the right to drive. The news was seen as a great victory for women in the kingdom, many of whom had fought for a long time for this change.

But this was also major news for the car companies.
"I don’t think in my entire career has a market opened up in this way," says Molly Peck, chief marketing officer for General Motor's Middle East operation. "Suddenly a whole new group of people — which is somewhere between 5 and 7 million people — would be given the permission to drive."
Peck and her team are based in Dubai and they wanted to get on the news quickly so they could start cranking out ads and acknowledge the major victory for Saudi women.
But there was a slight problem.
"There was a lot of discussion on exactly how we should do that," she recalls. "You know, do we talk about vehicles that may appeal to them or do we just talk about our brands?"
Not far from the Chevrolet offices, another marketing team was scratching its head.
"All of the market research that we had in the marketplace in cars was literally 100 percent men," says Crystal Worthem, Ford Motor Company's marketing director for the Middle East and Africa. "So we had to go back and really assess what is it that she thinks about the brand? What is it that she thinks about the cars? What types of cars would she consider when you’re moving from the back seat to the front seat?"

The first car ads went out on social media within hours. Ford and Chevrolet went with a simple message: Congrats!
But as the days went on, car companies realized they had to fine-tune their messaging. They started to do more market research targeted specifically towards women drivers in Saudi Arabia. Yes, some women already owned cars but they had made their decisions based on what appealed to them from the back seat.
As Worthem puts it, "before they had the influence on how the seat works from the back. Is there air conditioning? Are there proper amenities in the back seat? Whereas now it’s about how does she maneuver the car? How does she park the car? How does she handle the car?"
One of the more recent car advertisements from Chevrolet asks Saudi women a simple question: Will you drive when the ban is lifted?
Some say yes. But a good number of them say no, they won't.
Cherine Khoury shot the ad for Chevrolet and she says she was surprised by the answers. "I knew some of them would say no but I did not know the reasons why they were saying no."
Khoury, who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Lebanese parents, says off camera that some women told her they wanted to let some time pass before they get on the road. Just like when a new piece of software comes out and you don’t want to be the first one to download it — let the hiccups get sorted out first.
"Another one actually said that 'girls in Saudi Arabia were brought up knowing that a girl does not drive. So I won’t start driving now,'" Khoury adds. She wondered if the new decree is going to stick. What if after a couple of months the Crown Prince decides that this wasn’t such a good idea? What then?
"There’s a lot of social pressure," Khoury says, "so they just want to see how it’s going, how it’s happening before they start doing. And they’ve given it a lot of thought."
The Chevrolet ad ends with the hashtag #UpToMe.
"What really resonated with me about it as even a Western woman, a woman from the US," explained GM's Molly Peck, "it’s not so much about the decision, you know, driving or not. But it’s about the ability to make the choice for yourself."
The Saudi women who do plan to drive tend to be younger. And if you’re a car company trying to woo those customers, a college campus is a good place to start. That's why earlier this month, Ford held a driving workshop for students at the all-women Effat University in Jeddah.
"They started in the classroom, learned about a variety of things and then went to different modules," Ford's Crystal Worthem explained. "They actually got to sit in the vehicle [and] learn more about the car [like] 'this is how you engage the steering wheel and the brakes and all the elements.'"
Eighteen-year-old psychology major at Effat University Sara Ghouth got to sit in the driver’s seat for the first time in her life.
"I was very nervous," she says over the phone from Jeddah, "I was afraid to hit the gas pedal too hard, but it was fine."
Another thing she had to get used to is what to do with her legs. "Drivers use only the right leg to drive for the gas pedal and the brake pedal — which was quite confusing."
But by the end of the day, it was all fine. It helped that Ford had hired Francesca Pardini, the Italian race car driver, to teach the students. "When they told me ‘do you want to do that for girls in Saudi?' I was really, really happy. I felt proud [that they had asked me]."
Pardini also had an important message to get across: Safety comes first.
According to the Saudi government, about 9,000 people were killed in car accidents in the kingdom in 2016 — mostly because of speeding. Now imagine a whole new group of inexperienced drivers added to the mix.
"This is really important for the teenagers to understand," Pardini says, "that driving is … a good thing for the freedom but it’s a big, big responsibility as well."
So, she told them, no texting and driving. No driving if you feel drowsy or sleepy. No alcohol. (Yes, alcohol consumption is banned in Saudi Arabia but it doesn't hurt to emphasize.)
Like all other women in Saudi Arabia, Sara Ghouth the psychology major, won't be able to drive until June. But she's already picked out a car: a Hyundai Tucson, possibly the one in Caribbean blue.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fun Driving Song - Drive, Drive, Daughter of the Peninsula!

This fun Youtube video appears to have been recorded by some Saudi women. The lyrics are, "Drive, drive, daughter of the Peninsula"...and at the end of each chorus they sing, "beep beep beep, beep beep." Lots of fun. I assume we'll see a lot more celebratory things like this in the weeks to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Saudi Women Are All About Cars As The Driving Ban There Is Set To End

This story by Melissa Prax appeared on ABCNews in Bakersfield, CA on March 21, 2018. A link to the story is here, and it's pasted in below.

Women in Saudi Arabia are dreaming about the cars they'll be driving.
"I've already chosen mine: ... a Hyundai," Sarah Gouth said.
Zain Rajab said: "We're like set and ready. ... Mercedes for me."
But before they can hit the streets, there's plenty of prep work — like classes to teach the basics. This women-only class is free and is provided by Ford and a Saudi college.

"Here in Jeddah, the driving is pretty chaotic. People drive like crazy. ... I might get scared or something. I'm not sure how I'm going to react to the whole environment," Gouth said.
"Most of the girls I know are planning to drive. I'm not sure if their parents approve, but in general, yes," Gouth continued.
Rajab said: "Like a lot of girls are saying, it's finally an option. They'd love to have the option whether to drive, when they can or when they don't want to."
The kingdom's decision to lift the ban on women driving got international attention. The ban is expected to be lifted in June.
"A lot of people I heard say this is the start for women and, like, this is the first step for a woman to start doing something. But like, that's not true. Saudi women have always been doing something," Rajab said.
And Gouth and Rajab are no exception. Beyond driving, they want to make a difference for women in their country.
"I'm going to be an architect and [want to] be able to change how people view women in the workplace. ... People don't really depend on women's opinions and their ideas. They think of them as less than men. When you tell them, oh, a man is doing this, it's not the same as when you tell them a woman is doing this. I'm hoping to improve that," Gouth said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Number of female drivers in Saudi to reach three million in 2020

Constructionweekonline.com published this article by Dennis Daniel on March 20, 2018 about a PwC report about the future of driving in Saudi Arabia. A link to the story is here, and the text is pasted in below.

The total number of female drivers in Saudi Arabia is projected to reach three million in 2020, which will have a profound impact on a number of areas ranging from car sales to motor insurance, car leasing and driving schools.
In comparison, male drivers are set to increase from 9m in 2017 to 9.5m in 2020.
Car sales and car leasing are expected to pick up substantially, with an expected annual growth rate of 9% and 4% until 2025, respectively, given the substantial new women customer segment, according to a report published today by PwC Middle East titled ‘Women driving the transformation of KSA automotive market’.
In September 2017, Saudi Arabia announced in a royal decree that it would allow women to drive by June 2018.
PwC’s study finds that the decision presents significant opportunities for the government, strategic investors, motor insurance companies, car leasing companies, pension funds and private investors to create innovative solutions to serve the increase in demand.
The opportunities for the automotive market in Saudi Arabia can be summarised in four key areas: the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the creation of new job opportunities for Saudi nationals; incremental capital investment to build new road infrastructure; increase in insurance revenue with recalculation of insurance premiums; and establishment of new women-only driving schools.
Simultaneously, the motor insurance market will benefit from the new women drivers as it creates opportunities for new motor insurance providers, products and services.
As a result, the motor insurance is expected to grow by 9% annually during 2017-2020 to reach $8bn (SAR30bn).
Hala Kudwah, PwC Saudi Arabia financial services and consulting leader, said: “When considering the scale of the market, our analysis tells us that there’s an opportunity to increase the number of driving institutions in the Kingdom by over 50%, an increase that will be translated into job opportunities for the country’s female workforce. There would be dependencies such as necessary infrastructure and services to support female drivers; for example, women driving instructors, driving schools, license issuance, etc.”

Saudi woman trains for her motorbike licence... as country prepares to lift ban on women driving

This photo essay from the UK's Evening Standard dated 3/19/2018 says it all. Maryem Ahmed Al-Moalem is a Saudi female biker. In this photo essay she takes advanced training in the nearby island nation of Bahrain to prepare to drive in Saudi Arabia. I'm wondering if she might be an Aramco employee since she is wearing a Harley-Davidson Dhahran Club vest. Inside Aramco's Dhahran headquarters, women have long been able to drive. I'm linking to the story so you can see the photos - too many to re-post all of them. Photo Essay of Female Motorcyclist
The story is by Ella Wills.

Well, here's one photo anyway to entice you:

Saudi Women, Unveiled - CBS Sixty Minutes Overtime

This video was published on March 18, 2018 - and is a follow-up to Norah O'Donnell's interview with the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. I was unable to post the video but you can link to it here:  CBS 60 Mintes Overtime- Saudi Women, Unveiled