Saudi Women Get Behind The Wheel Ahead Of Protest Against Ban On Driving


Saudi women have in recent days been testing the limits of the country’s ban on allowing females to drive automobiles ahead of a nationwide protest against the prohibition at the end of this month.

More than 15,000 Saudi women have signed an online petition — which authorities have now blocked — calling on the government to lift the ban and women activists there are planning to drive en-masse in and around Saudi Arabia’s major cities on October 26.

But some Saudi women are getting out on the road early as many have posted videos on YouTube this week of themselves driving. One video posted on Wednesday shows passers-by, including men, giving a woman driver the thumbs up. Watch it:

Another activist posted a photo on her Twitter feed of being pulled over by the police for driving:


CREDIT: @SaudiWoman

The conservative establishment has resisted allowing women to drive. Back in 2011, during a previously organized protest against the ban, a report from Saudi religious scholars said women driving would lead to rapid “moral decline” in Saudi society and there would be “no more virgins” if women began to drive. And just last month, a prominent Saudi cleric warned what woman who drive cars risk damaging their ovaries.

But just this week, women on Saudi Arabia’s top advisory council, the Shura Council, urged the body to address all “excuses” given to prevent women from driving.

“It is flawed that a woman cannot drive a car after reaching the position of deputy minister, becoming a member of the Shura Council, managing a university and representing the country on international bodies,” said council member Latifa al-Shaalan.

USA Today notes that Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, general manager of the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya, said the ban costs Saudi Arabia economically and politically.

“Don’t forget that the picture no longer makes sense as the government sends tens of thousands of girls to study at prominent foreign universities, like Harvard and Cambridge, and then prevents them from driving cars in their own country,” he said in a recent column.