Saudi Arabia’s social media taken by surprise after lifting of guardianship laws

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Between ecstatic posts, memes, and posts mourning male guardianship over women, social media has seen varying reactions to the amendments in Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws.

According to the law’s amendments published on Friday, Saudi women above 21 will be allowed to apply for passports and travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.

Self-proclaimed life coach Rawda al-Yousef said: “Farewell to the domineering father for refusing his children’s right to travel with their mother.”

Al-Yousef, who had in a previous tweet considered that allowing women to travel without their guardian’s approval will cause scandals, went on to thank Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Abeer al-Ghamdi, a Saudi mother, said in a tweet: “Two days earlier I needed a lawyer to assure me that no one will be able to take my daughters from me, despite the threats I get from in-laws that they will take the issue to court. One day later, the guardianship law is dropped which has relieved me of great worries…”

Saudi academic Abdulla al-Gathami retweeted his wife’s tweet commenting that she was “celebrating getting rid” of his guardianship.

Prince Sattam bin Khalid al-Saud wrote that the last word “is that of the leadership and no matter what anyone’s opinion was, the final decision is theirs.” Prince Sattam had previously been against the changes to guardianship laws.

Saudi Arabia’s Twitter-sphere also saw the launch of many memes, including a picture of an old man sitting with a comment: “Your mother didn’t say where she was traveling?”

Not all users were celebratory though, Twitter user @B0_diary said that the only privilege men had left was “finishing their business while standing,” adding that they are “losing massively.”

A number of historic changes have been promoted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of the Vision 2030, a plan that ushers economic and social reforms, and encourages more women to enter the workforce.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was behind the lifting of the ban on women driving last year, loosening rules on gender segregation, and bringing concerts and movie theaters to the country.

These changes have caused a debate within Saudi society between those celebrating them and others who are unsure.