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Woman taxi driver makes history in RAK

By Sadiq A. Salam / 10 December 2006

RAS AL KHAIMAH — She has created a history; she is the first UAE national woman to drive a taxi in the RAK emirate. The story of Ayyadh Sultan is an episode of courage, determination and unlimited love for life.

“I am very glad to have been permitted by the authorities to drive a taxi,” Ayyadh, the first woman to be given licence to drive taxi, told Khaleej Times.

Basically a motor driving instructor, Ayyadh completed all formalities with the RAK Municipality and RAK Traffic Department to get a cab driver license few days ago.

The RAK Municipal Council, under Shaikh Saud bin Saqer Al Qasimi, RAK Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler, had taken a decision in 2001 to allow 10 women to work as taxi drivers in the emirate.

“No other woman has availed herself of the opportunity since 2001 when the civic body adopted the resolution,” she added.

Ayyadh’s decision is a turning point in the social and economic life of the emirate’s people. “I had been facing a lot of hardships to earn a livelihood for me and my four kids since 2002 when my husband had died,” she said while holding back her tears.

In her search to earn bread for her family, Ayyadh left no stone unturned. “I even worked as motor driving instructor but the income was barely enough to secure basic needs of my family,” she said, adding that she left the job and got a bank loan to buy a taxi.

“Unfortunately, the cabby committed some violations of the labour and residency laws and the labour authorities slapped me with Dh10,000 fine. I left the taxi and did not work for several months. Ironically, the taxi, instead of helping me out of the situation, added to the burden on me, because now,  besides running my home, I had to pay monthly instalments of the loan,” she said.

In answer to a question as to how she decided to drive a taxi, she said in view of her painful experience she dropped the idea of hiring a new cabby and found no way but to work on the taxi by herself because she had a good driving experience.

The 43-year-old lady, who had worked as motor driving instructor since 1990, said the reaction of her family was bitter. “My sons and daughters showed great abhorrence to the idea from the very beginning but I finally managed to persuade them,” she said.

For the first three days she faced a number of embarrassing situations while driving the taxi. “The staff of the RAK Patrols and Traffic sections stopped me several times but when I showed them my licence, they congratulated me and let me go. As for general public, some motorists who come by my side in traffic lights would lower glasses of their windows and look at me in utter surprise,” she added.

Ayyadh plans to take all kinds of commuters, regardless of their sex, to all destinations.  “Contrary to what some people may think, I am ready to take men as well as women to all rides,” she concluded.

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