Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive!

So your wife’s story is proof that women have long been driving openly in Saudi Arabia, and that the ban now being rescinded demontrates that it didn’t really exist? Not sure how I’d reconcile this claim with the week’s jailing of an activist after posting a 2011 YouTube video of herself driving in Saudi Arabia.

How well lifting of the ban will be accepted seems problematic.

*"The ruling will not go into effect until June, 2018. Women may have to get the permission of their male “guardians” to drive, as they do for many major activities in their life. The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith. The decree stipulated that new regulations must “apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards,” a reference to Islamic law. What that means was left unanswered.

In the past, Saudi clerics have opposed allowing women to get behind the wheel. Just last week, Sheikh Saad al-Hijri decreed that women “don’t deserve to drive because they only have a quarter of a brain.” The sheikh is the powerful head of fatwas in Asir governorate, in the country’s mountainous southwest. His lecture focussed on the “evils of women driving.” He also said that women have a quarter of a brain when they go shopping. One of the kingdom’s most famous clerics, the former grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Baz, once declared, “Driving by women contradicts Islamic traditions followed by Saudi Citizens.” (He was also the cleric who questioned the U.S. moon landing because, he ruled, the Earth is flat.)"*

No more so than that the persecution of a YouTube activist is proof that authorities have been prosecuting offenders for decades to the full extent of the law.

When bans are rescinded, it is very commonly for the reason that it is an impractical ban which is rarely actually enforced, and has actually become widely ignored…

Speaking of which, got any cites for your claim that the “western” media have been telling us fake stories about women in Saudi Arabia being stoned for illegal driving? Never heard that myself (though such a penalty has been uncommonly decreed for adultery).*

Who said anything that goes on in the Kingdom follows logic?

Although women sometimes take a taxi, Uber or Careem alone there’s a small risk that she could be arrested for being alone in a car with an unrelated man. The risk is much smaller than her driving as a passing police officer couldn’t tell if the driver is related or not, but if the woman were driving this would stick out a mile.

Lots of Saudi women have driven outside its borders, quite a few have inside (especially in tiny, hick towns where there are no police or traffic signals, the husband has gone to work, they can’t afford a driver and must get the kids to school).

Yes, Saudi men are - by a small majority - shocked and upset about this announcement.

Which has me in hysterics.

It’ll be interesting to see how many women start driving, as at the moment many (most?) Saudi men will claim the women in their lives are afforded any luxury which they can afford and are permitted by local laws. 90% of clothes shops in malls are for women, Saudi men stick to a thobe or sometimes sportswear, the live-in drivers are there for the women, as are the maids. It’ll be cheaper to have a live-in maid who can also drive, I expect this is the route many Saudi families will take. For the first few years, at least.

I have long waited for this day and I was much disappointed. Not fires on the horizon at dawn, not riotous mobs. My Saudi friends seemed about fifty-fifty on the subject, but nobody really objected.

I find Saudis always try to be as discreet as possible in public, *especially *over contentious issues resulting from actions/decisions taken by the royal family who they seem extremely wary of. In private and in social media is another matter.

What’s next, are they going to allow them to vote too? Such a slippery slope.

The western media hauls out every story about every sharia punishment in the Muslim world (about one a year or so) and shamelessness presents them as though they are everyday spectacles. No effort is ever made to temper any such articles with an explanation of sharia law and how it is, in the real world, applied.

The best reflection of what the media reports is what the public believes. Ask around the water cooler today what people think happens to Saudi women who drive, and gauge the response yourself. See how many people have been led by the media to believe that Aanh, they probably just do it and nobody makes a fuss about it as long as they are not doing it as a flagrant protest.

Saudi women have been allowed to vote in municipal election* since 2015.
*Which are the only kind of elections in the Kingdom.

KSA is such a backward place. I went there for a business trip a couple years back, and I hated it.

This is a step, but a tiny one, in the right direction.