At midnight on June 24, Saudi women drove their cars in Riyadh, Jeddah and other Saudi cities bringing an end to one of the strangest controversial issues which lasted for about three decades consuming the Saudis’ energy.
Ever since a group of female activists drove their cars and held a protest in November 1990 in support of women’s driving during the tense phase which accompanied Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the tension in the region due to the war and during the phase of the Sahwa’s sedition, i.e. of politicized fundamental groups which worsened the situation by exploiting some causes and confronting women and those who support them, the issue of women’s driving turned into a debatable subject between Sahwa supporters and those who support women’s “natural” right to drive cars and the decision to allow them to drive because it has economic and social benefits...etc.
The state’s usual rhetoric, as conveyed by its officials, said this decision pertaining to women’s driving is the society’s business and not its own. However, the situation developed thanks to the era of decisiveness as King Salman finalized the issue and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised to solve the problem and he did. The move thus deprived the kingdom’s rivals of the excuse they often used to continuously criticize it.
These developments reminded me of some of the articles I wrote in this daily several years ago.
Preventing women from driving cars represents an important symbolic significance pertaining to preventing her from participating in leading life or at least leading her own fateMashari Althaydi
In my article “She will drive the car” published on May 28, 2010, I wrote about those who oppose women’s driving and how their intimidations “are nothing more than snow statues that melted under the snow of reality.”
On May 24, 2005, I wrote the article “Women and driving… the car or politics?” about the significance of preventing women from enjoying this right to drive.
“Preventing women from driving cars represents an important symbolic significance pertaining to preventing her from participating in leading life or at least leading her own fate.”
I inquired: “Are women worthy of trust or not? Why do some like to bury their heads in the sand and leave the matter for time, for that time that does not (really) come except for those (who make things happen)?”
All these statements are now from the past. We are now before a new phase. There is a group of people who must be thanked at the end of this journey such as “few” former and current Shoura council members, writers, journalists and patriotic pioneer women. However the first and final gratitude is to the country’s leader the king of decisiveness Salman bin Abdulaziz and his crown prince, the brave leader, Mohammed bin Salman.
With this decision lifting the ban on women driving, we further head towards a natural situation and close this faucet which seditious people used to water the trees of sedition which they planted like demons’ heads.
Let’s head further towards the future and the enlightening path.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.