Every woman in Saudi Arabia can relate: An insight into a driver-dependent life

Shadaan Hammam
Shadaan Hammam
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Ready, set, drive!

June 24, 2018 marked an important moment in Saudi history, a moment worth a thousand celebrations as women in the country finally got the license to drive.

As an Egyptian female who has spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia, I understand the benefits and constraints of being eternally driven by a male guardian or a driver.

For a family of four, it would seem that one household driver would be sufficient to attend to all errands. But the truth was my brother, my mother, and I faced constant struggles over a driver.

Shafik was our long-term driver, the person who nurtured mine and my brother’s social lives. His contribution to our education is immense. Without him, we would not visit friends, or get to school.

Shafik was also my mum’s go-to person for household errands and appointments.

With my father busy at work, and my brother too young to drive, we became completely dependent on Shafik to drive us around.

Shafik was always on demand and my family had to plan our days around his availability.

It was uncommon for females to use public transport and Uber did not exist at the time. If the driver was on leave, a substitute chauffeur had to be found.

A new driver would then have to undergo a briefing – almost a crash course – on the Hammam family’s routine.

He would be expected to learn our individual schedules, our family commute habits, and the roads to our most frequented destinations (such as school and family friends’ houses).

I cannot wait to go back to Riyadh and take full control of the steering wheel. Would love to watch the city, which has raised me, from a different perspective, instead of observing from the back seat of a tinted car.

I look forward to driving my family around and visiting my friends whenever I please.

Lifting the ban unveils the strength and independence that women in Saudi Arabia have conjured up over the years. They will now learn to navigate and enhance their street skills.

With a license to drive, women will be on their own road to success, quite literally, as they will be driving themselves to work.

It feels good to be part of such a major social reform.

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