At last, Saudi Arabia allows women to drive

September 26, 2017 • 6:00 pm

Up to today, Saudi Arabia was the world’s only country that barred women from driving. That’s changed now, with the government announcing that, as of next June, women can get behind the wheel.

One obstacle down, but a lot to go. The guardianship laws remain for many things, requiring women to have a male guardian to do simple things like travel, enact official business, get some medical procedures, etc. They must still cover themselves in public, sexes are segregated, and, well, it goes on and on.

Still, one medium leap for womankind. . .

24 thoughts on “At last, Saudi Arabia allows women to drive

  1. Yes, as they say, you can now drive, you just cannot leave the garage. I recall many years ago when they allowed women to drive in S. Korea. They liked to wear white driving gloves.

  2. Good news but I doubt they will be able to drive alone, there will probably be a guardian in the back with his feet up.

    1. [The Saudi Ambassador to the UN]
      “confirmed that women will not have to get permission from their male guardians to take driving lessons, and would be able to drive anywhere they liked.”
      – BBC news

      A Saudi woman who works as a newsperson in the UK [on BBC World Service] said further modifications/exceptions are expected on the male guardian doctrine. She said a lot of pressure has come from previous opening of more employment opportunities for women and more women getting higher education. Their menfolk, she said, would prefer not to be chauffeurs…

      Religious conservatives are not happy about this — but there seems to be a tipping point where there are simply too many ambitious, well-educated and well-connected women.

      Certainly some effect from the huge number of Saudis of both sexes who’ve gotten their education in Western countries.

  3. You beat me to it! I was in the middle of writing about this when I got the notification of your post.

    This is fantastic news, and I hope it means there is more to come. Perhaps it means some women will be able to attend the annual conference on Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia?!

    1. I’d almost prefer they stay ante-deluvian. This is a reprehensible regime, and minor picky KING-permitted “privileges” (not “rights”) mean nothing, really. I’m happy, I guess, for the rich ladies who have cars to drive around with. But on balance, it makes me sick.

      1. I get where you’re coming from, but unfortunately it’s not realistic to expect Saudi Arabia to change overnight. Women got the vote there a couple of years ago. Now this. More will come.

        Poor women suffer more, whatever country they’re in.

        This isn’t meant personally, but I think it’s relevant.

  4. It will be interesting if this helps S.A.’s economy. More cars sold, more gas sold (cheap there I know) more freedom sold to go off and enjoy. I doubt women driving will equal more cars sold any time soon. But perhaps it is a medium step that will become a big leap. Sometimes I feel optimistic, sometimes not. I guess I’m feeling glass half-full about this.

  5. So, did allah’s immutable will suddenly change? Or did the mosque figure out that the negative PR finally outweighed the pleasure of keeping wimmens in their place, and they had a “revelation” (see Church, Black Clergy in the Mormon)? Is this one of those oh-so-convenient times when, according to islamic doctrine, a more recent revelation supersedes a more ancient one?

    In any case, the world is an infinitesmal fraction more just than it was before.

    1. What this indicates is that the King has firmly exerted his will over the religious authorities: not a common event in KSA. And since the King, like all his predecessors, is an elderly man, and also suffers from intermittent dementia, this suggests that his son, the Crown Prince, is really behind the move. Unfortunately the disastrous and incompetent war in Yemen is also down to the Crown Prince, so he is not exactly a paragon of good judgement. Still, this genie is now out of the bottle. Maybe there are more to come.

  6. If a woman is in a car wreck that’s totally a guy’s fault, can the guy just say it was her fault? And that’s the end of it? Unless she has a male to testify on her behalf perhaps. This could cause insurance rates for women to skyrocket.

  7. But will they be allowed to take the bag off their heads while driving – you know, for the sake of peripheral vision?

    1. There are bizarre, backward, and insular religious communities all over the world, from fundamentalist polygamist Mormons to the Westboro Baptists to some of the more extreme Haredi Jews. However only in the Islamic Middle East to these dictates have the force of law and state power behind them.

  8. Announced it in the UN as if it were some kind of big deal. Do they really expect gold stars because they’ve stopped being oppressive in this one area? Very glad you’ve condescended to enter the 1890s but you’ve some way to go yet.

    1. Is not enough.
      Is not swift enough.
      There should be .no. more “pstience.”

      Till now what it has been … …
      has been patience beyond … … reason.

      Some few governmental men there want
      ‘feminist’ recognition. Is waaaay more economic for these men than, ever, is it of something looking like… … egalitarianism.

      p 279, Dr Greer’s the Female Eunuch,
      its “Loathing and Disgust” ‘s chapter’s very first sentence there. S t i l l, of course. Simple as that, Hardly requires expounding. Hardly.


      1. adults “letting” other adults … …
        … … within the Times’ headline.

        Imagine for millennia by now: the FLIP / REVERSE of that gender – wise. Just how swift would that ‘ve been stopped,
        d’ya’s’pose ?


  9. Driving would be very difficult if you’re fully covered and wearing a veil. It would be hard to see where you’re going.

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