Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

  1. From the Telegraph in the UK: link

    Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers
    By Damien McElroy in Riyadh
    Last Updated: 1:02am GMT 21/01/2008

    Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state.

    Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.

    The move is designed to forestall campaigns for greater freedom by women, which have recently included protesters driving cars through the Islamic state in defiance of a threat of detention and loss of livelihoods.

    The royal family has previously balked at granting women driving permits, claiming the step did not have full public support. The driving ban dates back to the establishment of the state in 1932, although recently the government line has weakened.

    "There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court because it is recognised that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up," a government official told The Daily Telegraph. "We will make an announcement soon."

    Abdulaziz bin Salamah, the deputy information minister, said the official reform programme had been dogged by debate over the issue.

    "In terms of women driving, we don't have it now because of the reticence of some segments of society," he said. "For example, my mother wouldn't want my sister to drive.

    "It's something she cannot grapple with. But there is change on the way. I think the fair view is that one can be against it but one does not have the right to prevent it."

    If the ban on women driving is lifted, it could be years before the full impact is seen. Practical hurdles stopping women obtaining licences and insurance must be overcome.

    Mohammad al-Zulfa, a reformist member of the Saudi consultative Shura Council, which scrutinises official policies in the oil-rich state, said reversing the ban was part of King Abdullah's "clever" strategy of incremental reform.

    "When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad," he said. "Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent."

    Saudi Arabia maintains a strict segregation of the sexes outside the family home.

    An unaccompanied woman must shop behind curtains and cannot hail a taxi.

    Critics believe allowing women to drive would be the first step towards a gradual erosion of the kingdom's modesty laws. A woman would have to remove the traditional abaya robe to get a clear view behind the wheel.

    "Allowing women to drive will only bring sin," a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. "The evils it would bring - mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women - outweigh the benefits."

    Saudi women have mounted growing protests. Fouzia al-Ayouni, the country's most prominent women's rights campaigner, has risked arrest by leading convoys of women drivers. "We have broken the barrier of fear," she said. "We want the authorities to know that we're here, that we want to drive, and that many people feel the way we do."
     
  2. I for one would welcome this. I live and work in Saudi Arabia (although home for my husband and I is Seattle). If I could drive in Saudi it would mean I could drive to the Coach store, the Givenchy store, the Francesco Biasia store and even to Bahrain, to the Balenciaga and Chloe stores. YES PLEASE!!! Mind you, I probably wouldn't choose to drive in the evenings, it's just bedlum on the roads. Weekend morning shopping would be fab though, instead of having to use a bus or taxi.
     
  3. I hope they will allow women to drive .. I think its a stupid rule to ban women from driving. Please don't confuse this rule with religion. My mom was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, and as soon as she came to America she got her license, and was behind the wheel when she was 8 months pregnant.. Whats the big deal if women drive..

    What angers me the most is the main reason of the ban. They think women will be more sexually active. They think it will open the gateway to more adultery and premarital sex... Which I think is BS. You may ask how do these women find transportation. The main way of traveling is of course a taxi driver.. There is many stories of women having sex with taxi drivers.. By banning women from driving it will force women to travel with unknown men, which of course will cause more women to be promiscuous..

    On the lighter side one time my moms friends nephews from Saudi Arabia came to visit the US, both of them were about 20 years old. They wanted to go to New York, so my mom offered to take them, both of them were afraid to get in the car. So when they got in the car, we drove on the highway.. Looking at there faces was priceless, they didn't expect my mom to be such a good driver.. My mom drives so aggressive, and drives sooo good. Half way there my mom says to them, "I bet your dad doesn't drive as good as me" LOL
     
  4. there's chloe in Saks at mamlaka and balenciaga in mayyas in the sirikon building across from akariya shopping mall...:smile:
     
  5. there's a WHOLE LOT of generalization in the above quote...where did you get the idea of adultery and premarital sex? I am ALL FOR women driving but these are EXTREME accusations that i fear will perpetuate even more negativity about the way of life in saudi arabia...i also want to add that having a driver in saudi arabia is a way of life (using a taxi to run daily errands or go to work would be EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE) that we hope will change since that's an expense many people would rather have go to other daily necessities...there are many excuses religious people give for not approving women driving in the kingdom but stating the above is complete heresay...even if you heard a couple of people mention the above (which i have not) it still does not make it the general rule...
     
  6. I know this will sound totally ignorant but it shocks me that there are places in the work where women aren't allowed to drive. For all the western world goes on about Human Rights and freedom I cannot believe that there isn't more pressure on countries like KSA to give women equal rights.

    Still if this is going to happen, it's a step in the right direction.
     
  7. all I can say that won't be incriminating or violate any of the rules of this forum is....

    glad to see them take it one step at a time

    @ PrinceAbdullah

    I thought if the woman cannot drive, their brother or husband had to drive them around? I had no idea they get in the cars with 'strange men'
     

  8. :lol::lol::lol:
     
  9. Please explain this. Having a driver is a way of life but taking a taxi is too expensive? How do you pay for the driver - is he free?
     
  10. Having a driver in the middle east is not expensive as many would imagine, practically all middle class families have atleast one driver. I would just like to say that living in Saudi Arabia I am all for women driving and for women's rights, however something that many people in other parts of the world dont get is the saudi government have been studying this issue for years and are trying to implemente it as best they can, you cannot simply say tomorrow women will be allowed to drive - it would cause absolute chaos. I for one would not be one of the first women on the road because as it is there are too many drivers on the road, and we have one of the highest car accident fatalities in the world. It would not be a responsible decision if saudi arabia were to implemente this without fully studying how they can do this the right way and not offend the very conservative.
     
  11. A curtain? In all the years ive been living here, i have never had to shop behind a curtain. I have also seen women hailing cabs.

    I dont understand why the abaya would be an issue, anyone could drive with an abaya on its like driving while wearing a dress or coat.
     
  12. having a driver isn't free just not expensive...definately cheaper than using a taxi on a regular basis...that's all i meant...
     
  13. :wtf::wtf::wtf: What a bunch of backwards ideals. They blame the women for sins??? Individual should be held accountable for the individual's actions, not blame everything on the women so the excuse to restrict women!
     
  14. Sorry, but this thread is going into a religious area... particularly the last post.
     
  15. I am going to open this thread... as long as we can keep it free from political/religious bashing etc, we can have a nice discussion :yes: