Saudis express happiness at King’s historic decree on women’s driving

September 27, 2017
This file photo taken on October 26, 2014, shows a Saudi woman getting into a taxi at a mall in Riyadh.—AFP
This file photo taken on October 26, 2014, shows a Saudi woman getting into a taxi at a mall in Riyadh.—AFP


JEDDAH — Saudis, women in particular, were euphoric at Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s historic decree in allowing women to drive with many lauding the day as a ‘great day, and the news taking social media by storm. The reaction however was mixed with some showing reservation.

Saudis celebrated the historic announcement, which was well received internationally too. Women thanked the King through posts on social media for allowing them freedom to choose. King Salman ordered the reform in a royal decree requesting that driver’s licenses be issued to women who wanted them.

“Its up to women whether they want to drive and now we are empowered and encouraged by the King. We can support our families and it also helps independent women to grow stronger and lead a lifestyle like women around the world,” Maya AlHarithy, a 30-year-old Saudi woman told Saudi Gazette.

Latifa Al-Shalan, Shoura Council member. said, “A great day, I can’t control my tears, congratulations to Saudi women, thanks as big as the sky, King Salman.”

“I am bereft of words that can describe my emotions about this day that we women and also men we are pleased with this royal decree. It was clear that there is a clear line that heads toward the empowerment of woman, but the most challenging issue ever was the driving issue,” she said.

Samira Al-Ghamdi considers this a great gift from King Salman to its people for this year’s National Day.

Salih Al-Fuhaid a journalist said that the mainly raised issue at international media and international occasions will disappear. Fahad Alesta wrote on his twitter, “Oh great, words cannot express this anymore!”

Abdullatif Al-Sheikh head of Haia said this decision does not go against religion and that it has number of benefits such as not using drivers.

Aisha Awadh, a saleswoman, said: “A stranger came up to me and told the news. I was so thrilled. It will take off a huge burden from us, we’re depending on drivers and Uber cars.

“My brothers taught me how to drive. I’m very optimistic about it. It will make a tremendous difference.”

Another woman frowned and sighed. She refused to comment, simply saying, “There are advantages and disadvantages to everything.”

Shurooq Hamdan, a working woman, said “Driving gives more independence to women. I can’t go out without a driver or Uber. Costs average around SR1,500. I can easily buy a car if I had saved all that money.”

Ahmed Maghrabi commented, “I’m not against women driving but I don’t think our society is ready. She might easily get harassed in the street.”

Dr. Abdullah Elias, co-founder and chief executive officer of Careem Saudi Arabia, thanked King Salman for the royal decree. Dr. Abdullah also extended his congratulations to the Saudi women and the entire Saudi people on the historic and wise decision.

Careem’s founding partner confirmed that the company was ready immediately to register women to work on the platform, following the great success of the experience in the UAE and Egypt, noting that women joining our team will enhance customer experience in the safest and safest service ever.

“My dream has come true. I never thought I’d see this during my lifetime. My dream has come true for my daughters and the future generations. God bless the King,” Haifa AlKheriji, a 56-years-old Saudi woman said.

“This is the best news I’ve heard! I want to thank the King for such a great decision. It will truly change the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. We are free to take control of our lives,” Khulood Ammar, a 23-year-old Saudi student in Jeddah told Saudi Gazette.

Saudi men on social media also applauded the move. “I am so proud of this decision. I want my wife and daughters to drive and live their lives as equals. Saudi Arabia promotes and helps women rights. This is just the beginning of all that is to come. We applaud the King’s decision and are for women’s rights,” Abdullah Shareef, a 38-year-old Saudi said.

— Contributed by Fatima Muhammad, Mariam Nihal & Layan Damanhouri

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