Following the announcement of the royal decree of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman lifting the ban on women driving in the Kingdom, people now wake up to a different Saudi Arabia.
The news of allowing women to apply for a driver’s license by June 2018 has created a new sense of hope, independence and empowerment for women in the Kingdom.
Allowing women to drive as of the summer of next year means that women will be in control of their daily lives and are no longer restricted or dependent on the availability of a male driver to take them around.
In alignment with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030, boosting the economy relies on diversification and the contribution of citizens, both male and female, for a brighter, stronger and modernized Saudi Arabia of tomorrow.
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Reforms will not be possible without providing more control and autonomy for women, allowing them shared responsibility and leadership in their respective communities.
Throughout the years, many women have missed opportunities for employment due to the struggle they faced in securing transportation. Now women will be able to drive themselves to work, thereby creating a chance to increase the number of employed women, especially in the private sector.
Also, job creation in the transportation industry is another benefit; soon we will witness rideshare apps offering employment opportunities for female drivers.
It is time for society to accept the concept of men and women sharing the road equally as responsible drivers and begin experiencing the flexibility of being a much more mobile communityLojain Saati
Moreover, women who are forced to pay the salaries of expat drivers will now be able to cut down on such costs and manage their household finances with much more strength and independence.
Despite humor and sarcasm on social media as to the driving skills of Saudi women, many well-traveled Saudi females who have had the chance to obtain a driving license during their years of living abroad can now experience sovereignty and freedom in their own country.
The months to follow will be life-changing for a society depicted as male dominant on the roads; many should learn to tolerate diversity and accept women’s ability and right to drive while trusting both genders to follow Shariah and social customs.
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Finally, this remarkable change took the world by storm showing that the Kingdom is adapting with changing times and that its people are ready for reform.
It is time for society to accept the concept of men and women sharing the road equally as responsible drivers and begin experiencing the flexibility of being a much more mobile community working side by side for a better future.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on October 10, 2017.
Lojain Saati is a business professional and freelance writer.