Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Saudi dad hilariously replies to online haters, and people are loving it

This story is from stepfeed, reported on July 4, 2018. You can link to the story here and it's pasted in below. The story is by Razan Mneimneh.

For the first time since 1957, female members of Saudi society have been granted their right to get behind the wheel.

It's uncommon to see an Arab dad making people laugh by clapping back at his haters online... Meet Khalid Al Othman, an outspoken Riyadh-based engineer with nearly 15,000 Twitter followers.

Last week, Al Othman posted a picture of himself with his daughter behind the steering wheel, four days after the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was officially lifted on June 24.
Since King Salman's September 2017 royal decree, the country has been busy setting up driving schools and holding events encouraging female members of society to practice their newly established right.
"My first ride alongside my precious daughter after women officially started driving in Saudi Arabia," wrote Al Othman.
Most people on Saudi Twitter rejoicingly replied to Al Othman and his daughter with positive comments. But alas, the negative comments also made their way through and the proud father handled them like a boss.
Let's take a look below...

"Darker than it already is?"

- "Why don't you make your daughter wear the hijab and cover her hair? May God darken your face (humiliate you)." 
- "You want my face to be darker than it already is you blind man?"

"Transportation has nothing to do with covering up"

Replying to a user's comment on his daughter being uncovered and claiming public transportation is what the country really needs, Al Othman said:
"Covering up is my business and my daughters ... and by the way, public transport has nothing to do with modesty."

"Should we say wow?"

Arabic puns at their best.

"I placed the driving wheel on my daughter's side"

- "Are you the one driving or your daughter?" 
- "I'm the one driving of course, but I placed the driving wheel on my daughter's side." 

Although he received some negative responses, most replies where supportive

"A beautiful person"

"An awesome dad"

"Warms my heart"

"She's lucky to have you"

Saudi women celebrated a historical day

On June 24, women in Saudi Arabia were finally given their right to drive legally after a long-standing ban was lifted by a royal decree in September last year.
As part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's wide-ranging drive to modernize the country, for the first time since 1957, female members of Saudi society have been granted their right to get behind the wheel.
The 32-year-old crown prince, who is heir to the throne, has spearheaded the Vision 2030 agenda to diversify the economy away from oil and open up Saudi society.
Part of his plan is to increase female workforce participation from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, and allowing them to drive will be a vital component of that.
Up until June 24, Saudi Arabia was the only country left in the world where women were not allowed to drive and families had to hire private drivers and chauffeurs for female relatives.
Following the ban lift, viral footage that was widely shared online showed police officers handing out roses and giving their full support to the new female drivers.

Even a rap video was put out to support women

The rap song - titled "Tahsibni Amzah" (Do you think I'm kidding?) - was written and performed by Saudi social media personality Leesa A.
"Don't forget that today is the tenth day (of Shawwal) and this means no need for taxis. I'm not kidding, today I can drive myself," Leesa raps in the music video.
The video went viral almost immediately, amassing over a million views on Instagram and over 840,000 on YouTube.

Saudi woman’s car set on fire in Makkah village reports this story on July 3, 2018. A link to the story is here and you can read it below. The story is by Al Sherbini.
Cairo: A car owned by a Saudi woman was set on fire in a Makkah village allegedly by men opposed to women driving, Saudi media reported on Tuesday, more than a week after women were allowed to drive for the first time in the kingdom’s history.
A spokesman for the Makkah Police said that they had received a complaint that the car was the target of a dawn arson attempt in the village of Al Samd, Saudi news portal Sabq reported.
“The fire was put out and the incident is being investigated by security agencies,” the official added without giving details.
 The owner posted a video of the burning vehicle and accused local men of being behind the incident, but did not name anyone. “The village youth torched my car because they oppose female driving,” a crying woman says in the video.
The woman, who gave her name as Salma Al Sharif, appealed to King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad for help.
 The decision to allow women to drive is part of wide social and economic reforms championed by Saudi Arabia’s young heir apparent.
On June 24, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive for the first time, months after the Saudi monarch decreed lifting the ban on female driving.
Conservatives frown upon women’s driving as immoral and un-Islamic.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Saudi woman releases Hijazi rap song on women driving

GulfNews reports on June 29, 2018 that a young Saudi woman produced a Youtube video singing in Arabic rap about women driving. A link to the story is here and it's pasted below:

Leesa offers constructive saftey advice in her song stressing the importance of buckling up
  • Saudi woman Leesa stresses the importance of buckling up while driving in her rap song.Image Credit: Youtube
  • Saudi young woman celebrate right to drive in rap song.Image Credit: Youtube
  • Saudi young woman celebrate right to drive in rap song.Image Credit: Youtube
Gulf News
Manama: A Saudi young woman has composed a rap song “We Are Driving” to celebrate the lifting of the ban on women driving in the kingdom.
In her Hijazi rap song, in reference to the western part of Saudi Arabia, Leesa celebrated the glory of the historic 10/10 date.

The date refers the tenth day of the tenth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar, Shawwal, and corresponds to June 24 when the ban was lifted.

Don’t forget that today is the tenth day and this means no need for taxis. I am not kidding, today I can serve (drive) myself,” she sang.
Leesa also offered safety advice to women driving on busy roads, stressing the importance of buckling up.Saudi and Gulf women on Sunday celebrated with the right of women to drive in the kingdom.
The decision was announced in a royal decree in September but several months were alotted to prepare the logistics for the event, including setting up driving schools and finding experienced women driving instructors.
Saudi Arabia also enacted a strict anti-harassment law to ensure the full safety of women drivers on roads.

How to rent a car as a foreign woman in Saudi Arabia

The Arab News sent a reporter to rent a car and report on how it's done. A link to the story is here and the story (with video) is pasted in below. It was published on June 29, 2018.

Arab News' Mo Gannon went to find out how easy it was to rent a car as a foreign women in Saudi Arabia. Visiting from Dubai Mo went to a branch of Budget rent a car in Jeddah.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

In her own words: Saudi Arabian woman on her first drive

AFP Riyadh reports on June 24, 2018 about one young Saudi woman starting to drive, Samar Almogren. A link to the story is here, and the text is pasted in below.

It's midnight in Riyadh, and Samar Almogren is making her way across the city she was born and raised in.

Women in Riyadh and other cities began zipping around streets bathed in amber light soon after the ban was lifted.

Saudi Arabia ended its longstanding ban on women driving on Sunday - and the second the clock struck midnight, women across the country started their engines.
This is what it was like for one of those women as she drove across Riyadh, the city of her birth, in her own words:
"My name is Samar Almogren. I'm a talkshow host and writer.
"I took off my niqab a long time ago. When I first decided to show my face on television, it did not go down well. My brothers were very upset. But my father supported me, and has always supported me in all of my life decisions. He's the one who encouraged me to study abroad.
"I've driven in different countries before, and I have an international driver's license, but it's going to be totally different here. At home.
"I actually hate driving. But that's not the point. The point is that it is my right. I can drive, and whether I choose to or not is another issue.
"My whole body is tingling right now. To get in my car, to hold this steering wheel, after having lived my entire life, since the moment I entered this world, in the back seat... This is now my responsibility, and I'm more than ready to bear it. I've long depended on myself.
"I always knew this day would come. But it came fast. Sudden.
"I think this was the biggest stumbling block. I don't see any more obstacles from here on. Driving was the big one, and that's done now.
"Everyone's already asking me to drive them to work or to come for coffee. It's going to be great to be able to take my mother around, rather than have her sit in the backseat with a driver who's a stranger. No, my mom isn't going to drive, at her age. We're going to drive her around, me and my sisters. We want to spoil her.
"What's most important to me is that I can drive my baby around. It's the worst thing to me to have to entrust him to a driver, even though I'm always with him in the car.
"I wore white tonight because it's the colour of peace. I feel like a butterfly... No, a bird. I feel free like a bird."

As driving ban ends, Saudi Arabia’s women take to the roads with joy and relief

The Washington Post covers women driving in a June 24, 2018 story by Kareem Fahim. You can link to the story here, and the text is pasted below.
After midnight, on June 24, the day the ban on women driving in Saudi is lifted, Ahd Niazy's mother, Dania Alagili, 47, parks the car after taking her family for a stroll for the first time in the streets of Jeddah. (Iman Al-Dabbagh/For The Washington Post)
–With her husband in the passenger seat and her daughter cheering her on, Dania Alagili guided her sport utility vehicle onto the King Abdulaziz Road early Sunday, breaking a barrier by becoming just another Saudi driver in the roaring traffic.  
 “This is a day I’ve been waiting for,” she said. “For the last 30 years.” 
 Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive for the first time on Sunday, lifting a ban that was the last of its kind in the world and one that had come to symbolize the kingdom’s harsh subjugation of women.   
In an effort to modernize the country, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has eased some social restrictions. And by the standards of the Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy guided by an ultraconservative religious creed, reforms that seemed like the barest of innovations – like the lifting of the driving ban or the opening of cinemas – are viewed by many here as revolutionary, if long overdue.  
 That Alagili, 47, had earned her driving license 23 years ago, in the United States, did nothing to dampen the joy on Sunday of driving in her own city, on her own roads, on her own. 
Without the driving privileges, and dependent on men, “I felt heavy, tied back,” she said.   
 She headed to her father’s house, knowing he would want to share the moment with his only daughter. “For women it’s a big deal. And for the men who supported us,” she said.  

Ahd Niazy tells her mom, Dania Alagili , how proud she is of her. (Iman Al-Dabbagh/For The Washington Post)

 Cars raced by on the King Abdulaziz Road, a harrowing stretch of freeway that is also perhaps an argument for reevaluating the driving privileges of some of the men in Saudi Arabia. 
"You’re doing great momma,” her daughter, Ahd Niazy, 23, said from the back seat. Hany Niazy, Dania’s husband, called the couple’s other daughter, Layal, 19, who lives in Washington, D.C.  Her face appeared on his phone.
 “Momma how do you feel?” Layal asked.  
 “I feel great,” he mother said. “I feel wonderful. I am born today.”  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's Official --- Saudi Women Drive!!!!!

Nine years after I started this little blog, I am so happy to be at my computer, counting down the minutes until women in Saudi Arabia will be able to drive legally. Over all these years, reading about the issue from so many angles, it was still such a delight to learn the news last September that the ban would be lifted at last.

And now the day is here. People are sending out tweets of congratulations. Women are tweeting that they are getting ready to drive. Others are tweeting to women to take the responsibility of driving seriously. And the world watches.  Another tweet mentions that filming and photographing women drivers in order to mock them is forbidden and punishable by fines and even prison. I trust that cool heads will prevail and people will be mature about this change.

Fortunately, Saudis like to stay up late, so I think those who go out driving in 47 minutes (yikes it's coming up soon) will find that there a lots of people on the road. I hope there will be some peaceful celebrations and ululations (zaghareed).

My novel, A Caravan of Brides, has a chapter in it imagining that on the first day of women driving (set in 2018 by pure luck) that women stand on the steps at the Traffic Department and let out zaghareed. I don't think that will happen tonight, but maybe someday.

Now it is nine minutes to midnight. Now it is two minutes. I eagerly await coverage of the day, especially what people post about their first drives. 

It is so wonderful to be alive to see this change take place.

And now, the moment has arrived. Congratulations and Hallelujah!!!!!