Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive!

Story here!

Congratulations to the women for securing their right and congratulations to the country for dipping a toe into 21st century society!

Yay! A tiny piece of good news.

So, good news… the prohibition is off the law books.

Does anyone know if that matters? My general impression is that historically, most “vice suppression squads” don’t give a rat’s ass about the Rule of Law, other than the ancient oppressive laws rattling around in their otherwise-empty heads.

Believe it or not, the current King is a dedicated reformer. The problem is that he has to move verrrrry slowwwwly in order to avoid a major backlash from the most conservative elements of his society.

Anyone else notice this line?


More like the 19th century; but hey, at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Uh, I understand what you meant, but what I meant was more like “it’s no longer the 19th (or even the 20th) century; welcome to accepting that fact.”

That was sort of my first thought, too, but my second thought was: was there ever a time in the west when women were forbidden by law to operate a transport vehicle? Were women not allowed to “drive” a buggy in the 17th century?

Maybe some of them will drive away from that crazy backwards place.

What kind of quarter-brained scheme is this?

This is more than the first toe dip. Maybe best to call it the first splash that drew attention after they quietly slipped into the kiddy end of the pool in early 2016. There was a change in which prince was seen as the heir apparent to the throne. That prince, seeing the end of oil being sufficient to sustain their economy started making moves to diversify. Trying to involve half the country’s population in the labor force, even if still limited, became a bigger deal under him. One of the substantive changes was taking away most of the religious police’s actual policing powers in spring 2016. When the religious police couldn’t demand identification or actually arrest someone their society started changing.

A stern look and clucking tongue just doesn’t have the same limiting power as throwing someone in jail. They’d effectively decriminalized a lot of the religious limits on both women and men. Taking a step of legally allowing something instead of just turning a blind eye to religious violations is important. It’s the next step, though, not a first one. It’s not even that surprising of a first legal step. If you want the women to work, it’s useful if they can drive themselves to get there.

My wife drove in Saudi Arabia in 1975 – we didn’t even know it was illegal. It was a 16 hour drive across, we shared the wheel. It was brutal, no AC in cars in those days.

I could never understand the “logic” of behind letting women drive for fear of them mixing with unrelated men, but being OK with them going off on their own in cars driven by unrelated men from foreign countries who might not even be Muslims. :dubious:

It could take a while for this to get up to speed. If Saudi females have never (or rarely?) been allowed to drive, then it must be likely that very few have ever learned how to drive. So, if they can drive now, it could be a generation before a substantial number of Saudi females have learned to drive.

Good info there, DinoR; thanks.

This is prolly a good thing, tho. It could take a generation before the majority of the population accepts it as normal (frankly, it could take more than a generation IMO).

It wasn’t. The prohibition against women driving started in 1979 during the Iranian revolution and the Grand Mosque Seizure in Saudi. The king figured a strict enforcement of sharia law would appease the nutjobs who might overthrow his government next.

There are plenty of Saudi women still living who already knew how to drive before then. And many more who have been driving against the law anyway despite the risk.

I see what you did there.

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My wife (not the 1975 one) just told me that during her two years in KSA in the 90’s, the women of the Saudi household that employed her drove regularly and with impunity.

Nobody from the western media ever actually checks anything out. Somebody told a tabloid that it is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, and from that point on, women are being stoned all over the kingdom for driving cars.

Maybe not the ones you were using. AC had been a factory option for 35 years at that point.

There are a definite number of Saudi women who have driver’s licenses from other countries, and who drive in those countries when they’re there for whatever reason. Of course, this would be women whose families have sufficient money to travel.

Combine that with the women old enough to have been driving in the early 1970’s when it was still legal and women who have been driving illegally there are probably quite a few Saudi women able to drive.