Friday, April 25, 2008

Women (not) driving in Saudi Arabia

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I know it's an old issue and an old rant but I have been realising more and more lately how much potential danger women in Saudi Arabia are placed in just because we are not permitted to drive here.

There is some skewed reasoning in this country that bans women from driving but allows them them to use family drivers and taxis to get about. Since we are not allowed to drive, ideally our husbands would drop us everywhere we need to go but realistically this is not possible in many cases, most husbands have a full time job to hold down as well as taxiing the family to and from various appointments. Children need to be dropped at and collected from school, many women work outside of the home and need to get to their place of employment, food provisions need to be bought from the supermarket, women and children need to visit the doctor or dentist from time to time and so on and so forth.

As a general rule I don't take taxis but there are times when the rule has to be broken; times when my husband isn't even in the country and I have urgent appointments, sick children etc. At these times I am forced to take a taxi to my destination but how can I be sure of the trustworthiness of the driver? Recently I have heard many warnings about the dangers of using taxis which is really alarming. I have read reports of cheap labour from certain countries and how those countries are allowing ex-convicts straight from jail to take up menial jobs in Saudi Arabia.

I know I don't particularly relish the idea of driving in Riyadh but I do look forward to the day when women are permitted to drive and go about their daily business without having to rely on men and without obstacles blocking the way.


Adventurous Ammena said...

you will prob be well gone by then :P lol... insha'allah it changes, I really dont understand the mentality of not allowing them this little freedom. I remember speakin to a friend once who lived over there.. she is young (well at least like 5 yrs younger than me) we were discussing the issue and she turned to me and asked 'well what would you do if you were out driving and you got a flat tyre?' I was gobsmacked.. is this what the country is doing to women? brain washing them into thinking they are doing us a favour by not allowing us to drive. Change the tyre for Gods sake!!!

Fruitful Fusion said...

Assalaamu Alaykum,

The week before last week, I was over in the Emirates and spent just one week there, not worrying about depending on a male member of my family to drive me somewhere! There were quite a few of us and most of the time we had 2 cars between us. It made life so much easier for one of us "womenfolk" to drive. At one point, the men took the kids and went to the beach and us women and babies went to the shops.

The whole women driving thing doesn't seem to be an issue for the Emirati cousins across the border :)

BTW, I'm still on catch up with all things related to the net, which is why I haven't responded to your tag :P Soon in sha Allah.


Susie of Arabia said...

I've only been in the country for 6 months now after having driven my whole life in the states. We don't have a driver so I have to depend on my hubby to take me everywhere and it's the pits. He hates driving, hates the traffic and complains every step of the way. I just remind him that it was his bright idea to move back home to a place where I cannot drive, so he must deal with it. I am not going to sit home all the time. In this age of cell phones, even if a woman driving in her car alone were to break down, help is just a phone call away. Many women here ARE brainwashed and scared. It's maddening.

Rainbow In The Grey Sky said...

driving , yes much needed when there are not good public transport links avalible, also good for larger families with kids.Driving is a sore point with me , long story but yes i don't take cabs and not allowed to get on bus unless there is a seat avalible which is hardly (due to sexual molestaion by male passengers!)So what options are left for me? Walk ? i don't think so. I suprised the women are not into changing tyers , owwwww its a mans world!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, aren't women in Saudi Arabia going to be able to drive by the end of the year? I think I read that somewhere, but now I can't really remember...or maybe it was just a dream! lol.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikom,
I thought I had read that the rules may be changing about women driving in Saudi Arabia. I would lead a much more boring and monotonous life if I were not able to drive. It would be very frustrating, only because I've always had that option. I don't know if I could handle that particular restriction very well. I have heard horror stories about this issue (women being bothered by drivers, children or women having to drive in emergencies, etc.)

Amina said...

i really don't understand mentaility of KSA, insha allah it will change, for better...God gives us freedom, and it is sad that people take it away from each other

Anonymous said...

I'm a Western expat in KSA and I am daily frustrated by my dependence on other people. I hate that when my husband gets home, he has to take me places. I could catch taxis but I know many people who have had trouble, and sometimes scary trouble, so I (and he) prefer that he takes me out. But he's been working all day, and the driving is truly stressful, so I have guilt, even though he doesn't ever complain at all. However, if the law changed tomorrow, I still wouldn't drive. The behaviour of drivers when they are all men is truly appalling. How much worse will it be when there are women on the road to look at, as well as the road. You see men in cars craning their necks to look at women on the street and in other cars already. Because of the strict segregation, some young men are like caged animals, and if they got the chance to chase after a car with a pretty woman in it, they would. It would be more chaotic, and dangerous but infinitely more dangerous for women in cars being chased, boxed in, and harrassed by men behind the wheel. A Saudi my husband works for who lived in the US for ages with his wife, who drove everywhere, said that he wouldn't let her drive here until men learned some manners towards women. And besides, driving isn't the big issue, guardianship is infinitely more important. And you can bet the government official that was responsible for the statement about women being able to drive by the end of the year wasn't the one able to make the decision, and finished his statement with a bit, fat 'inshallah!

Anonymous said...

asalaam alaikum stranger :-)

im finally catching up on my post readings and i have to say i am totally with you on this one. but i agree to some extent that the society is not ready for women to drive. i go out just to start the car and turn on the a.c and i get stared at by the young and old like i'm a fool.
i dont know what its like in riyadh..but here in madinah if i go out especially in the morning like today to the store, market you know just for errands..its a big thing for women. the stores are filled with men picking up the groceries and such. my husband dropped me and my older girls at the supermarket while he took the younger 2 to go get some other things. i needed to buy hair color and i felt so i am standing infront of some boxes that didnt have their faces/hair blacked out like most pics of women in the stores..trying to figure out which color was best for me and sweating that i felt i was being stared at. i finally left to find my husband a few minutes later walking in the store and i told him to stand by me so i wouldnt feel like all eyes were my could have easily been my insecurity and probably was..but situations like this make me feel like if they will let us ladies drive that it should be a weaning process into it rather than all at get the men of this saudi culture immuned little by little. i vote to let the expat women with licenses to drive first but then again, i am biased! really though, then we can support our saudi sisters and get them used to the idea of it too because i dont think many of them are actually for it, i could be totally off..probably am..

great post, may Allah do what is best for you..

Anonymous said...

Asalaamu Alaiakum


Questioner: Is it permissible for a woman to drive a car?


If it is permissible for her to ride upon a (female) donkey then it is permissible for her to drive a car.

But there is a difference between a donkey and a car.

Sh Al-Albaanee:

Which is more concealing – riding upon a donkey or in a car? I would suggest (riding in) a car.

Shaykh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaanee

Anonymous said...

It is an issue alright. I sometimes wonder why KSA has implemented such a rule when Islam has allowed...