Saudi women who want to drive aren’t ‘wasting your time’

Badria al-Bishr
Badria al-Bishr
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The issue of “Women behind the wheel” has found its way to the forefront of domestic issues. Women have decided not to wait for the matter to be settled. After two historic attempts, women have decided to hit the road on October 26th, put the pedal to the metal and go forth to accomplish their aims by themselves. They will record videos of themselves driving on their smartphones and upload them, within minutes, to a YouTube channel.

A therapist drove a car by herself and went to her clinic; she videotaped herself saying: “I will drive my car by myself.” Another woman went out, brought her grandchildren home from school and said: “My son-in-law is an employee and we do not have a driver these days.” A third woman, who did not say anything and remained unknown, drove skillfully on the highway. What was surprising is that traffic police did not apprehend her! Then, we heard that other women were arrested and asked if they had driving licenses – as per the law – but were then released. They told the press that the traffic law does not prevent women from driving, but it requires a driver's license. This is of course another mystery for women to solve: “Where can they get licenses when there is no driving school that will grant women a license?”

It is crystal clear that the government has finally decided to be professional, and even more, accept the fact and be honest with itself, when some officials stated that allowing women to take the wheel is a social decision. The government has presented an advanced, vital and civilized position, is it strange?

I agree that the discussion of this issue in the Council is a waste of time, but was the clock in the Shura Council broken when it had plenty of time to discuss other silly and useless issues?

Badria al-Bishr

Our government’s stance will surely seem weird compared to the stance of the head of the Shura Council who decided some days ago, during a session of the Council, to accuse three female members of the Shura of wasting time when they submitted to the council a memorandum including legislative, legal and social justifications calling for approving women’s right to drive. He said that the current transportation file that they are discussing has nothing to do with the female driving.

The chairman of the Shura Council is right because the mystery of “women behind the wheel” has nothing to do with the transportation field but it is rather related to NASA’s agency that is based on Saturn, and therefore we shall review the complaint there. My objection here is on the “waste of time” expression, I agree that the discussion of this issue in the Council is a waste of time, but was the clock in the Shura Council broken when it had plenty of time to discuss silly and useless issues? I believe the head of the Shura Council was not keen on making optimum use of time when he called on one of its members to forbid foreign airlines to stop serving alcohol to passengers when they enter Saudi airspace, and when he discussed the need to protect the Arak tree and ease the commercial demands on it.

Therefore, I suggest that all women involved in the “women behind the wheel” campaign carry with them an Arak tree because the Council may be forced to intervene to protect the arak tree.

Hard luck Shura council.

Do not forget to turn off the lights after your sessions, in order to save energy.


Dr. Badria al-Bishr is a multi-award-winning Saudi columnist and novelist. A PhD graduate from the American University of Beirut, and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. Her columns put emphasis on women and social issues in Saudi Arabia. She currently lectures at King Saud University's Department of Social Studies.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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