Sunday, April 29, 2018

Uber and Al Nahda to help underprivileged women learn to drive in Saudi Arabia

This April 26, 2018 article by Stephen White appeared in the  Middle East Construction Journal. You can link to the story here.  The text is below.

Uber and Al Nahda, a non-profit women’s organisation, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together towards empowering more women to drive in Saudi Arabia.
In a statement, the two orgranisations said the partnership will see Al Nahda, through its catalogue of empowering programs, help Uber identify underprivileged women who are interested in learning how to drive and obtaining a license, but may not have the resources to do so. The partnership is part Uber’s ‘Masaruky’ (your path in Arabic) initiative. Revealed in March, Masaruky has a $270,000 fund to increase women’s participation in the workforce through access to affordable transportation, in addition to increasing women’s access to flexible, part time economic opportunities through Uber.
As part of the agreement, Uber will also become Al Nahda’s “Exclusive Transportation Partner” at all their events across the Kingdom, conversely the non-profit organisation will  become the partner-of-choice for the ‘Masaruky’ initiative.
“Masaruky has provided us with a platform for collaboration with a range of partners that can help increase accessibility and economic opportunities for women – something we’re very proud of. Today’s MoU with Al Nahda demonstrates that Uber’s impact does not end with the flexibility and convenience it has introduced to millions around the world, but that we also strive to drive change that is positive, meaningful and economically empowering to all,” said Barney Harford, Uber’s global COO.
Rasha Al Turki, Al Nahda CEO, said Al-Nahda and Uber share a similar vision towards the importance of women’s increased access to work
“We are excited to be the first partner to collaborate under Uber’s Masaruky initiative as we work together to empower more women to drive. This is a natural progression of our work together and we look forward to building on this partnership as we move into a new chapter for Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Research by Uber and Ipsos found that 78% of Saudi women surveyed earlier this year were likely to get a driving license post ban removal. Almost a third (31%) of those surveyed, indicated that they were interested in driving as an earnings opportunity.
Uber have been running regular women listening sessions over the months, the first of which took place late last year with a number of influential female representatives present, and was led by the technology company’s global CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Discussions have focused largely on Uber’s priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom. The sessions have proven crucial for both participating women and Uber, giving those in attendance the chance to learn about both the process and economic impact that Uber can have.

Saudi women learn road safety measures ahead of driving license procedures reporting on women training for their driver's licenses. You can link to the story here.

Text below:

Saudi women in Dammam underwent training programs and attended awareness lectures on traffic safety rules at the “Qiadaty Eradati” forum, which translates to “my driving is my will”.
The forum was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of road safety measures in order to reduce traffic accidents. Participants were made aware of the traffic laws and their importance in ensuring safety for all.
Women attending the forum not only learned about road safety but also how to drive a car through virtual simulations. The activities were part of their preparations to earn a driver’s license.
At the forum, the Saudi General Directorate of Traffic demontrated all the necessary regulatory and administrative requirements to be implemented. This will enable the department to fulfill its role when women begin to drive in Saudi Arabia.
In September of last year, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a decree allowing Saudi women to drive as of June this year. The initiative comes as part of large-scale economic and social reforms.
Speaking to Al, Saudi Princess Abeer Bint Faisal sent a message to women across Saudi Arabia. “Thank God Almighty we have trust in Saudi women. They are capable of taking the responsibility of driving as they do with her duties at home. We trust their commitment because they are much more aware than they once were.”
In a video obtained by Al, university students are seen participating in training activities. All the students looked very happy as they take the driver’s seat for the first time.
Meanwhile, driving instructor Bashaer al-Masiri said that learning to drive is not an easy task as some may think and, in fact, requires a combination of skill and understanding. “Driving also requires capable instructors who imbibe in them the necessary safety measures for the task,” she added.
Last Update: Wednesday, 25 April 2018 KSA 13:59 - GMT 10:59

Saudi National Committee for Driving ready for women to take the wheel

Link to the story  in by Nadia Fawaz is  here.  Text below.

In what’s considered a major step towards Saudi Women sitting behind the wheel in two months’ time, the head of the National Committee for Driving, Dr. Makhfour al-Bushr, stated that women will not be a cause for worry on the roads.
In an interview with Al, he emphasized that the road and traffic authority is ready to deal with any hiccups especially that the decision for allowing the Saudi women to drive came following a field study.
Meanwhile, many Saudi women are preparing to join driving institutes while others question why universities are not offering driving lessons to keen students. Hence, shouldering them with extra fees for private institutions outside the universities’ campuses.
In this regard al-Bushr confirmed that the royal decree allowing Saudi women to drive, did not limit teaching driving to universities only, but it simply equaled her with Saudi men’s right for learning to drive and to be behind the wheel.

High fees

As for the reason behind the high fees stapled for driving lessons, which is five times that designated for men, al-Bushr explained that these fees “are for the investors in these projects, especially that the universities are renting a public park within its capacity while investors have to shoulder extra costs.”
Al-Bushr explained that the expected percentage of Saudi women drivers won’t exceed 25 percent and would be similar to that of female drivers in the Arab states.
Last Update: Friday, 27 April 2018 KSA 16:24 - GMT 13:24

Questions about arrangements for women driving

Insightful editorial in the English language Saudi Gazette (translated from the Arabic daily, al-Riyadh)  by Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi about the pending law change in Saudi Arabia on June 23, 2018 to allow women to drive. A link to the story is here, and the text is below.

Al-Riyadh newspaper

WOMEN in Saudi Arabia are looking forward anxiously to Shawwal 10, 1439H (June 23, 2018) when they will be allowed to sit behind the wheel.

On that particular day, the Saudi women will end their dependence on their private drivers and begin their normal lives in which they will not be waiting for a diver to drive them to their destination and back and drive them on errands. It would also end their dependence on the driver, who might have gone out with no one knowing when he would come back.

The women will no longer be seeing a car parked outside the building looking at them with sarcasm because they will not be able to touch it.

They will not be calculating their money to pay the limousine, the taxi or the app-share cars. They will not struggle with their dignity looking at a husband, a brother or a son to take them on their trips.

The anxious wait of the women, which began about eight months ago, was accompanied by projects related to this giant move including the opening of schools to teach them driving, the laws against harassment and creating traffic jobs for women.

What has so far been accomplished in the readiness for women driving in June? I feel pessimistic about the slowness of the arrangements being taken for the historic step.

Let us begin with the schools to teach driving. A number of universities announced that they have assigned areas for women to learn driving and have also dedicated other areas for their parking.

Personally, I do not see any link between universities and the teaching of driving to the women. The teaching of driving to male teachers and students had nothing to do with any of the universities, which expressed willingness to teach women driving.

Princess Noura University in Riyadh, Imam Mohammed Bin Saud Islamic University, King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Al-Manie Health College in Dammam and the universities of Taif and Tabuk have all said they were willing to teach their women staff and students how to drive cars.

The department of traffic has, however, kept silent and did not tell us why there were no driving schools in other areas of the Kingdom. What will be the situation of women in other cities and towns?

After the issue of the limited number of the schools, comes the topic of the driving lessons. Eight months have passed and we believed that women have already started taking lessons in driving especially that we saw many times in the newspapers and the TV pictures of women behind the wheels.

These photos suggested that the women have started learning driving while the actual fact is that a very little number of them have done so on experimental basis.

Many women who already know how to drive took the lessons so as to polish their skills and to get trained on driving on the street and acclimatizing themselves with street sense and traffic.

Other facilities like Al-Manie Health College in Dammam was prevented even from publicizing their intention to train women on driving which will only begin after two months when they are officially allowed to drive under a royal decree.

What exactly is going on? We need answers.

Let us now move to the price of the lessons. Princess Noura University said the cost of 30 hours of theoretical and practical teaching in addition to the use of simulator would be SR2,400 plus the VAT of course.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the men, who do not have driving licenses, will need 15 days of education at the cost of SR560.

What is the matter? Why do the projects concerning women will turn into exploitive schemes for which women have to pay dearly?

We are waiting for an answer from the traffic department.

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