Saudi Women on Driving for the First Time
The countdown is on
Sarah Ben Romdane
On 24 June, the nationwide driving ban will be lifted in Saudi Arabia. With the first licences currently being granted to a few women, MILLE caught up with six Saudi women to find out how they feel about driving for the first time in the Kingdom.
Raneen Bukhari, 30
“I haven’t got my licence yet, but I’m excited to! I’ve already been driving all around the world with my Bahraini license, but it expired in 2015. This news just feels good, I can’t wait to actually do it”.
Sarah Al Shaalan, 23
“Honestly, it’s huge and overdue! Other than the great independent feeling that we can now actually move without a man in a car, I’m more curious in how this new regulation will lead to women empowerment in other fields and sectors; whether it’s job opportunities, education level or even just social position in society”.
Rozana Al Banawi, 34
“I feel there is a rebirth taking place, the community is coming together and rejoicing in this history-making day. It’s really about the transformation that will occur to all, both on an individual level and collective level. This law will forever change us. That’s the most exciting thing!”
Ayah Saadawi, 27
“I’ve been excited about this for so long! I hate the fact that we’re the last country on earth to have any changes in so many things. I’m all about being fair in this world. What’s so sad is that back then, around 80 years ago, they didn’t have this segregation, and now we do have that, but inshallah now it’s changing. I have so much hope. It’s going to take at least 20 years for things to develop, but it’s going to be a better life for our children? I’ve applied to two driving schools but I still haven’t heard back from there, but that’ because so many girls have been applying, which makes me so happy. I don’t know if I’ll have my licence on the 24th but I will be taking the test as soon as possible and will put all my efforts into it. I feel like some men are a bit frustrated and insecure to see us gaining more rights; a lot of insulting memes were viral on the internet recently. Men still want to feel like we need them. But luckily, some men have been supportive and I was A surprised to find out most Uber drivers support the ban lift. I can’t wait for my father to teach me how to drive around the neighbourhood!! And so lucky to have a father supporting my career, my rights and me.”
Ola Nassif, 34
“I am really happy and excited to see my country and society going through a new phase. I am looking forward to see women driving and to be independent in their lives and also in their discussions. Personally, I am going to wait until I feel comfortable and then hopefully I will take a step further”.
Picture of Rozana Al Banawi by Ahmed Hafiz.