Saudi Arabia To Allow Women To Drive

125px-Coat_of_arms_of_Saudi_Arabia.svgWe have long discussed the crushing sexism faced by women in Saudi Arabia under its medieval Sharia legal system. One of the most glaring inequalities was the ban on women driving — a rule that courageous women defied at the risk of their own freedom and well-being.  Now, while about 100 years too late, the Kingdom has announced that women will be issued driver’s licenses. Despite the fierce objections that many of us have to the Saudi system, it is important to give credit to the government in rejecting religious and cultural prejudices, including extremist views expressed recently by Saudi clerics.


Women will be able to drive in  June of next year in an announcement that must have electrified women advocates and civil libertarians.  The decision is not simply the removal of one of the most disgraceful forms of discrimination, but will also allow women to save the significant amount of money expended on hiring drivers.  With the Kingdom desperate for women to contribute to its struggling economy, this change will make a significant impact in not only encouraging women to remain in the Kingdom but to purse positions in the market.

The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador, in Washington.  The change will be a blow to the infamous  “guardianship” laws that give men (and even boys) power over their female relatives.

Reformers in Saudi Arabia continue to struggle with Wahhabi clerics who follow an extreme form of Islam, including orthodox rules on the treatment of women.  While the pace of change has been slow for civil libertarians, this is a significant change that is worthy of celebration and praise.


40 thoughts on “Saudi Arabia To Allow Women To Drive”

  1. Saudi Arabia To Allow Women To Drive

    This is a clumsy public relations ploy on behalf of Saudi Arabia in an attempt to distract attention from it’s war crimes in Yemen (the US government is also involved) which are responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent people.

    1. Not quite, Squeeky. Anyone caught listening to Cole Porter in Saudi Arabia is going to get a severe public caning or worse.

  2. Before any of you get too excited about the “progress” in the lovely land of Saudi Arabia, you should know that there’s a catch to the new law allowing women to drive. If women now choose to drive in Saudi Arabia, they must pay the required auto insurance, which for women currently costs 81,500 Saudi riyal (or about $22,000 US). The premiums for men are less than one-tenth that amount.

    Meanwhile, there are other wonderful positive bits of news coming out of Saudi Arabia. A new law is under consideration to allow prisoners to smoke a cigarette before they are beheaded.

    If this splendid progress keeps up, who knows, maybe the Saudi government will permit prisoners to have a last alcoholic beverage before being beheaded.

    1. Experience is a factor in auto insurance , and since a loft of these women could be first time older drivers ( 20s, 30s, 40s or older) without experience , that could make sense why their insurance prices may be higher. Also, it is hard to see with so much face covering, and peripheral visual field could be affected, therefore increased risk.

  3. That is a fantastic development.

    Are women allowed to drive alone, or do they need to have a male guardian present?

  4. Great. Women can now drive. We should all give the kingdom a round of applause. As far as I am concerned, the influx of female drivers will just provide more warm bodies now available to drive trucks and vans into crowded markets or down the sidewalks of our cities, mowing down infidel shoppers and pedestrians in their wake, and all in the name of the great and sanctified Allah. After all, the men were getting tired of always being the ones to have to be the martyrs. I’m convinced that women are being given the so-called privilege to drive so that they can do their share of pillaging and destroying in the name of Islam, thereby absorbing some of the damage themselves.

    1. Great. Women can now drive. We should all give the kingdom a round of applause.

      I can understand your cynicism. Maybe they’ll be allowed to become airline pilots too, but only learn to takeoff. Anyway, this is just one step that may make no difference in their culture, or they launch into a cultural transformation that eventually moves them into the 20th century.

  5. It’s funny, if you ever visit Bahrain you can see the Saudis heading across the causeway to the island nation. The minute they enter Bahrain proper off go the hoojabs and on goes the party.

    A couple years ago in Dubai during Ramadan I encountered a Saudi. He was wearing the traditional attire, sitting there in the hotel bar, drinking a canned Budweiser.

  6. I see women. Women drivers.
    Here I am in Camp Grenada.
    You remember Harold Fleming.
    He got tomein poisoning after dinner.

  7. Now, while about 100 years too late

    That’s a bit arrogant. SA is not about to transform their culture on your clock. This would be a major 1st step towards moving SA and their respect for the rights of all of their citizens. They missed the Age of Enlightenment; so perhaps we are witnessing this major Muslim country’s beginning of a new age.

  8. Mixing it up here… from my own personal corny science, I have a tally here. One dozen to one female driving texters to males. With the second to the last one merging onto I-95 South in Richmond at 80+ mph while hammering it out. I tried to get cell phone photo while my son was driving, but it was too dark in the vehicle to see what the activity was.

    Or, maybe the other argument is that males just can’t multi task like females. The person was texting, accelerating, and weaving in and out of traffic–fluidly–in her 20-year-old minivan with trashed springs. If it wasn’t so scary, it would have been impressive.

    The sole male, was lumbering down a city street in red light traffic texting and trying to shove a burger into his pie hole.

    1. Somehow, women find smartphones much more addictive than men do. Maybe somebody can get a PhD in psychology figuring this out !

  9. Yeah, but will they be permitted to leave the kingdom at will? Will they be permitted to initiate a divorce? Will they be able to obtain police protection against domestic violence and rape? Don’t forget that a woman in Saudi Arabia is still a criminal if she is raped (by anyone other than her husband, that is…).

    The ability to drive is kind of irrelevant if significant other legal protections don’t exist.

  10. In all seriousness while this is welcome, the Kingdom has orders of more magnitude before they come into the modern world. Driving a car is inconsequential compared with women being decapitated on the streets on the accusation of adultery and blasphemy.

    1. The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has bounced around a set point of about 80 a year. The number of intentional homicides in the country is typically somewhat north of 200 per year. I don’t think they’re executing many people for sex offenses and blasphemy.

        1. It’s a country with 28 million people living in it. That there are injustices and cruelties in Saudi Arabia I would not dispute. The question is the degree to which they are incorporated into daily life.

          Turley’s continual complaints about the place are shallow and frequently silly (I’m thinking of his kvetch that an advertisement for above ground pools did not incorporate a broad in a bikini and a man’s bare chest). The question to ask yourself is how Saudi Arabia compares to western countries as they are, not western countries with all their disagreeable features unacknowledged. The other question to ask yourself is what the realistic alternative to the current order in Saudi Arabia is.

          1. They are absolutely incorporated into daily life. How would most people lead a free and open life when there is the continuous threat of severe punishments for merely expressing ideas or questioning religion or questioning the practices of their monarchy.

            There is no comparison between Western Countries as a whole and how Saudi Arabia treats its women, or its ordinary citizens for that matter. If you would care to live in Saudi Arabia as a woman, knowing what you might about Liberty, would that be your preference to living in the United States?

            1. These inustices extend beyond the residents of many of these counties. Remittance employees often endure hell in these countries AND cannot leave – they forfeit their passports upon arrival.

              1. A six digit population of guest workers go home every year. They’re a transient population.

            2. They are absolutely incorporated into daily life. H

              No, a single digit population of executions in a country with 28 million people living in it does not constitute ‘everyday life’.

              There is no comparison between Western Countries as a whole and how Saudi Arabia treats its women, or its ordinary citizens for that matter. If you would care to live in Saudi Arabia as a woman, knowing what you might about Liberty, would that be your preference to living in the United States?

              Would you ask yourself to inventory how people actually behave in this country and how you think your great-grandmother might have reacted to that? Hundreds of thousands of abortions every year, unilateral divorce on demand, young people living for a decade or more in train-wreck ‘relationships’ before attempting to set up something resembling an orderly domestic life, the hook-up culture, 40% of all children born out of wedlock, an ocean of pornography, and K-Y products advertised on television.

              What Richard John Neuhaus said, “Every society gets sex wrong”.

              1. Here are the offenses for which a Death Penalty is available for prosecution in Saudi Arabia that have neither constitutional nor statutory authority to levy a death penalty in the United States:

                1. Apostasy
                2. Armed robbery
                3. Atheism
                4. Blasphemy
                5. Burglary with aggravating circumstances
                6. Adultery by a married person
                7. Sexual misconduct
                8. Sodomy
                9. Homosexuality
                10. Lesbianism
                11. Sorcery
                12. Witchcraft
                13. Theft on the Fourth Conviction
                14. Waging war on God

                You seem to disagree but I and most others prefer to see a K-Y Jelly product advertised on TV without having to watch people being beheaded or imprisoned for any of the above.

                It seems obvious you haven’t experienced first hand what a truly repressive society consists of. And with your complaints you enumerate above about this horrible immorality you assert exists here, maybe Saudi Arabia is such a place you might find suits your needs. Good luck on that; especially when you might find it difficult to coronate yourself into the princely ruling class who can exempt themselves from the jurisprudence they enforce against commoners.

                Oh and be sure you don’t complain about anything your kindred kingdom that you find objectionable. That often lands you in prison. Who knows, they might even throw in a false accusation or two to sweeten the sentencing.

    1. Hear, hear!

      Perfect. I’m astonished.

      A revelation: Intellectuals like Darren Smith appreciated and familiarized themselves with the Beatles.

      Who’d a thunk it?

      “Beep beep’m beep beep yeah!”

  11. I think this was a ruse, a PR stunt in order to change/divert the topic of an investigation into the brutality by the Saudis in Yemen.

    Saudis say if there is an investigation the world will feel their wrath.

    Apparently, they feel they are as entitled to torture and destroy the people of Yemen like the Israelis feel entitled to do the same to the Palestinians.

    Go Solar!

    1. If Yemen as a country is fortunate, the Government and its allies will be optimally brutal and suppress this insurrection in short order. The last thing the Arab world needs is another endless insurgency.

    1. That’s an interesting point. If driverless cars are available anytime soon, maybe this newfound right will be taken away in a few years as “unnecessary.”

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