7,550 Saudi women obtain driving licenses from abroad


Saudi Gazette report

— As many as 7,550 Saudi women have obtained driving licenses in the past two years from United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan, local daily Al-Watan reported on Tuesday quoting reliable sources from some driving schools in the Kingdom.

The sources said the women had spent SR11.6 million for the licenses at the rate of SR1,540 per one.

They said every woman had spent 22 hours learning how to drive and they also cleared driving tests to get the licenses.

Under a royal decree, Saudi women will be allowed to drive from next June for the first time in the history of the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh on Monday organized the first workshop to enlighten its female staff and students on driving.

Ahmed Al-Rukban, spokesman of the university, said many such workshops will follow to spread awareness about driving.

He said the university has resrved special parking areas for its female staff and students within its premises as well as places for its 90,000 students to practice their sport and social activities.

Al-Rukban said there will also be special areas for women to learn driving which were decided in coordination with the traffic police.

Muna Al-Mishait, Shoura Council member, who participated in the workshop lauded the decision to allow women to drive and said it had put men and women on the same footing.

She recalled that in the past, women who were mature enough would be driven by their minor brothers who might be at the primary schools.

"Why would the society recognize that a woman who is only 16 years of age can marry and deliver babies while it does not recognize her right to drive before she is 20,” she questioned.

Mishait said agreements were reached with a number of universities to open schools to teach women how to drive, introduce them to the car parts and educate them about the Saudi traffic laws.

She said the decision to allow women to drive would further boost the national economy through saving more than SR25 billion used to hire expatriate drivers.

She said the decision would also boost the car market and would enable women to take jobs for which cars are needed.