A few hours remain until women will finally able to legally drive in Saudi Arabia. The decision will be enforced on June 24, which will be marked as a historical day in regards to the social and economic reforms included in Saudi Vision 2030.
Al Arabiya English accompanied businesswoman and health and personal development coach, Manal al-Dabbagh in Dhahran, a city located in the eastern province of the kingdom, as she anticipated the lifting of the decades-old driving ban.
Dabbagh, who previously received her driving license outside of Saudi Arabia, described being behind the wheel as empowering, saying: “I would like to control every aspect of my trip, deciding when I leave, where I go and when I come back.”
“It will be easier to move between locations without facing any obstacles,” she said. “Enabling women to drive will give them the ability to move, thus, join the workforce after they have been relying on men for transportation,” she added.
Dabbagh also stressed that driving a car will not be a social upgrade, but a developmental step and that allowing women to drive will economically benefit the kingdom and lead to an increase in women’s participation in the workforce. This will bring huge changes including the absence of the need to hire drivers, she said.
Educational activities in Dhahran are familiarizing soon-to-be drivers with traffic safety rules and the mechanics of the vehicles, as well as eliminating their fear of driving with the use of electronic simulators and traffic regulations signs, she said.
Dabbagh believes that the path to change is long and women may initially face obstacles, but Saudi men will support and empower them. “Finally, as two building blocks in our society, women will be side-by-side with men.”