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Woman Arrested for Driving in Saudi Arabia

It seems that Saudi Arabia still isn’t quite ready to accept the new decree that was issued last month which finally allows women to drive. Although the law that bans women from driving will not be lifted until next summer, many were understandably excited to see the progress that Saudi Arabia has finally made.

A couple of weeks ago, one woman dared to defy the law that has not yet been lifted by driving a car while being filmed leaving a hotel. Police in Saudi Arabia have penalized and booked this woman. Police have also warned that other women who violate the driving ban before it is lifted will be similarly punished.

Although the police spokesman did not specify the penalty, he did state that the woman who was filmed driving a car had not been arrested. He said, “We call on all Saudi citizens to respect the law and wait until the ban on women driving formally ends.”

Another spokesman also added, “No woman will be allowed to drive before before the formal lifting of the ban in June and the law will be applied to all those who post ads on social media offering driving lessons.”

When Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made the announcement that Saudi Arabia would lift the ban on women drivers, he also addressed the fact that he would like to integrate more women into the workplace. Many, including the US State Department, have welcomed this decision by saying that this is “a huge step in the right direction.”

Prince Salman also announced the Saudi Vision for 2030, in which he details his vision of what is to come. The Saudi Vision website even states, “Our vision is a strong, thriving, and stable Saudi Arabia that provides opportunity for all. Our vision is a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method. We will welcome qualified individuals from all over the world and will respect those who have come to join our journey and our success.”

The website also adds, “We intend to provide better opportunities for partnerships with the private sector through the three pillars: our position as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, our leading investment capabilities and our strategic geographical position. We will improve the business environment, so that our economy grows and flourishes, driving healthier employment opportunities for citizens and long-term prosperity for all.”

It seems odd that a country headed in the right direction would still threaten to penalize any woman who decides to drive before the ban is lifted. It will be interesting to see just how long it takes to lift the ban and issue driver’s licenses to women. While many women fear that their guardians might not allow them to drive, the Saudi ambassador to the United States recently confirmed that women will not need permission from their guardians in order to apply for a license.

Saudi Arabia might have made a step in the right direction when it comes to finally deciding to lift the ban, but it still has a long way to go.

Featured Image by OccupyReno MediaCommittee on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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