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Saudi Arabia: King Salman orders driving licenses for women

In Saudi Arabia, most families depend on private drivers to personally help transport their female relatives to school, work and other places.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom as of next June.

The royal decree issued on Tuesday also ordered the establishment of a high-level committee of involving the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. They will be tasked with studying the arrangements to enforce the new law.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

“This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought not just years, but decades for. Every time we asked, we were told the time was not right. When we asked those previous from this men and women who said we didn’t need to drive, King Salman,” Latifa Shaalan, a Saudi female member of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council, told Al Arabiya.

Economic impact
“This will have a huge impact on Saudi Arabia’s economy. We have to remember that our kingdom produces more female graduates compared to our male counterparts,” Ghada Ghunaim, Saudi writer and journalist told Al Arabiya.

In Saudi Arabia, most families depend on private drivers to personally help transport their female relatives to school, work and other places.

According to the latest statistics, there are nearly 800,000 men, most from South Asia, who work solely as drivers to Saudi women.
Ghunaim told Al Arabiya English Tuesday’s royal decree will inevitably also help poor and middle-class families.

“A lot of families in Saudi Arabia are not able to afford paying a driver a monthly salary, this royal decree will help ease a lot of families who struggle with their women not being able to drive,” she added.

Middle East

UN appeals for countries to take in 1,300 Libyan refugees

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Libyan refugees

The UN has appealed to countries worldwide to take in 1,300 mainly African refugees stranded in Libya. Many of them were mistreated while being detained appalling conditions.

Niger has agreed to temporarily host the most vulnerable of the evacuees, including unaccompanied children and single mothers, pending their processing and departure for resettlement, Reuters said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that it “urgently requests 1,300 places for resettlement” to be made available by the end of March. The UNHCR intends to evacuate between 700 and 1,300 people from Libya to Niger by the end of January 2018.

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Middle East

‘Don’t buy from Arabs’, says Israeli Defense Minister

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Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on his fellow citizens to boycott the Palestinian market of the Wadi Ara region of north-east Israel, after riots broke out there on Saturday over the American decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Three people were injured when protesters began hurling stones at a bus. “I am calling for a boycott of Wadi Ara. Don’t go there and don’t buy there. They need to understand that it is impossible to demonstrate with Hezbollah flags, Palestinian flags and pictures of [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah.

To accept billions from the National Insurance [Institute] and to also destroy us from within,” Haaretz quoted Lieberman telling Army Radio.

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Middle East

Hamas leader calls for ‘new intifada in the face of Israel’

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Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has called for a new uprising against Israel following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a speech in Gaza Thursday, Reuters reports.

Anti-US protests erupted almost immediately after Trump’s declaration Wednesday, with Palestinians first to take to the streets, calling for three days of rage against the move.

World leaders expressed serious concern over the decision and its potential to destabilize the region.

The decision has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked Trump, and said he be believes “many” other nations will follow suit in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pope Francis said he could not “remain silent” and spoke of his “great anxiety” surrounding the decision, while the EU voiced “serious concern.”

“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,”Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“Jerusalem is a unique city,” he added, “sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

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