On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s current king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud finally released an order allowing the women of Saudi Arabia to drive. This rule reverses the previously imposed outrageous law, which objected on Saudi women driving.
This happy news was public through a television announcement. However, hold your BMWs euphoric Saudi women, King Salman’s decree states that a ministerial body will to provide suggestions to work out the practicalities of the rule within the next 30 days. The rule allowing women driving in Saudi Arabia will finally implement in June 2018.
Why Are Saudi Women Driving Now?
For a long time, the Saudi religious authorities and officials have tried to justify the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. They have come up with a number of explanations, one of which is that Saudi women driving are against their culture. Others have straight up called it wrong. Some extremists have gone as far as to argue that Saudi women driving would bring about the downfall of the country’s society.
For decades, the advocates of women’s rights in the country have been striving hard for the right of Saudi women to drive. Many have had to go to jail for speaking against the now reversed ban. However, there is hope to start seeing women driving in Saudi Arabia.
The arrival of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, son of King Salman, was what finally brought the change. Two years back, the Crown Prince devised a long-term plan, namely Saudi Vision 2030.
This plan to allow women driving in Saudi Arabia aims to rebuild Kingdom’s economy while decreasing its reliance on oil simultaneously. Saudi Vision 2030 also mentions the construction of new employment sectors for the youngsters.
The decrease in oil prices has been the sole cause of decaying job opportunities in the government sector, which was the source of survival for a number of Saudi families. Therefore, the kingdom aims to bring more citizens, both male, and female, into employment. However, the cost of hiring private drivers for women means less saving and more spending, thus discouraging the women to work.
Economic Instability Leads Women to Drive
Despite having a number of positive outcomes, the Saudi women driving decree expect to face harsh reaction from a large part of the country. Just recently, the social media public opposed the Saudi officials strongly after it permitted the women to enter the kingdom’s national stadium, which was never done before. Nevertheless, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a valid reason to do so. They wanted the women to witness the 87th founding anniversary celebrations of the country.
The country’s new ambassador to Washington, Prince Khaled bin Salman, stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s step is necessary and not wrong in any way. Furthermore, he affirmed that the government viewed Saudi women driving not as a matter of religion or culture, but a social issue. He also assured that the kingdom would acknowledge the women owning driving license from other Gulf Co-operation Council countries. However, he kept his lips sealed on whether the country would begin working on the rights of women.
The representative of US State Department, Heather Nauert, also expressed his appreciation of the country’s new rule to allow women driving in Saudi Arabia by stating that it is a commendable act.
Saudi Women Driving; a World of Hope and Happiness
Most of the world and part of Saudi Arabia has embraced the new law to allow women driving in Saudi Arabia with open arms including Manal al-Sharif. She is the organizer of the Women2Drive campaign and an activist. Manal has had to face jail-time for driving. She went on to Twitter to state her victory by writing that the country is about to change.
Princess Nourah University which has a great number of female students i.e. 60,000 in Riyadh and many other cities, plans on opening a driving school for the Saudi women driving in future. The university states that it is collaborating with the concerned authorities to set up the school.
Well-known car manufacturers namely Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan have wasted no time in congratulating the Saudi women, as many of their car sales’ revenue will generate from Saudi women in the coming years.
A New Experience for Saudi Women
Saudi Arabia’s women are definitely going to experience a completely new world. They will soon make their way into the labor force of the country. It will be interesting to see how the country will function as a whole with this new change. There is no surety on how soon the world will see women driving in Saudi Arabia, but there is hope for sure.
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