The Times of India, among other media, picks up this AP story by Donna Abu-Nasr on how the winds of change seem to be affecting Saudi attitudes toward women’s driving. The instances she sites have been covered here earlier, but she does make the point that the government has not (yet) objected to various petitions to permit women to drive.

Saudi ban on women drivers may be eroding

RIYADH: When Ruwaida al-Habis’ father and two brothers were badly burned in a fire, she had no choice but to break Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers to get them to a clinic.

Using the driving skills her father taught her on the family farm, al-Habis managed to reach the clinic’s emergency entrance without a hitch.

“When I pulled up, a crowd of people surrounded the car and stared as if they were seeing extraterrestrial beings,” the 20-year-old university student said. “Instead of focusing on the burn victims, the nurses kept repeating, ‘You drove them here?”’

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans all women, Saudi and foreign, from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and women who cannot afford the $300-$400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

But there are signs support for the ban is eroding. Al-Habis’ story was first published in one of the biggest Saudi newspapers, Al-Riyadh, which even called her “brave.” Her father, Hamad al-Habis, praised his daughter’s action.

“Why should it even be an issue?” said Hamad al-Habis in his hospital bed. “My daughter took the right decision at the right time.”

Al-Habis is one of several women whose driving has made headlines. It is not clear whether the reports are a sign that more women are driving or that newspapers are just more willing to report about them. But in either case, it suggests the long-unquestioned nature of the ban is eroding.

August:22:2008 - 09:46 | Comments & Trackbacks (9) | Permalink
9 Responses to “When Will Saudi Women Drive?”
  1. 1
    Alicexia Said:
    August:25:2008 - 07:28 

    It only takes a few turns of events to make a revolution happen. It’s one I can really respect her for doing seeing how the world was probably against her if she would have got caught before she made it to the hospital.

  2. 2
    Hope Kiefner Said:
    August:28:2008 - 13:07 

    IDEA: Who would support me…to have an international DRIVING DAY for WOMEN DRIVING IN SAUDI?

    We could start up a website and have a certain time where all the women in the WORLD who would support women driving in Saudi will unite and get into their cars and Drive for Saudi Women.

    Saudi in the US?

  3. 3
    Saudi in US Said:
    August:29:2008 - 08:30 


    I appreciate your enthusiasm and it is a neat idea. However, to pull off something like that you will need a huge organizational effort that involves women groups, advertisements, banners, etc. Some of these major women groups have to adapt the cause among the many they look at. I am not saying it is not something that can be accomplished,it just that requires much more than a web site.

    Perhaps an approach of creating a web site to educate about the issue with a petition for visitors to sign and banners that bloggers can include in their sites to drive traffic to the petition can be simpler to implement.

  4. 4
    Aafke Said:
    August:29:2008 - 08:52 

    I´m all for it, but isn´t there allready an organisation in place in KSA who are working on it and placin petitions?
    Sorry I can´t remember the name at the moment, and I am AWOL from house cleaning.

  5. 5
    Hope Kiefner Said:
    August:29:2008 - 09:42 

    Hi Aafke,

    I will email you about it….I was thinking about getting car company sponsors…just brainstorming.

    Hi Saudi in the US…I believe I could pull it off…I would have to check with some key people in Saudi before doing it.

    Please email me if interested: where we can discuss it.

  6. 6
    John Burgess Said:
    August:29:2008 - 10:13 

    And you remember well: More on Saudi Women’s Driving

  7. 7
    Aafke Said:
    August:30:2008 - 07:21 

    Ah, that’s the post I was thinking of.
    Creating a website is a piece of cake, we would need people in different countries to participate, and rally other people, and the media, and organise a driving day! If we can get enough people and countries involved, we might hit the big media!

    At the other post Saudi in US made an very good point at comment 5, hoe women in SAudi Arabia do not yet realise what they will be getting out of being given (back) the right to drive. I remember how I thought getting a driver’s licence no big deal, and cars were bad for the environment, and you should travel by public transport, etc. etc…

    Until I actually had my driving licence and tasted the freedom and possibilities it gave me!

  8. 8
    Aunty May Said:
    December:09:2010 - 04:41 

    Did I see an alien??

    Hope darling, I did indeed see a woman driving at Exit 5 back in the summer of 2010. I am all for women driving. Most of the students at uni know how to drive.You know it is all about control, hence they still are not allowed to drive. So when will there be a day where all women in Saudi be able to drive? The question is, ‘when’ As Winston Churchill once said, ‘Where there is hope, there is glory’…excuse the pun Hope.

  9. 9
    Sparky Said:
    December:10:2010 - 01:29 

    It was me driving :-) hahahaha

    I suspect a lot of women are driving as well. That or very feminine men.

    As that was what everyone was saying to me at the uni., if only Winston Churchill were here today!

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