The turning point

I have been complaining about the ban on women driving for the past decade. Over the years I have had in my employment about eight or nine drivers; Indians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Bangladesh…I’ve ridden with all kinds and unfortunately smells. I’ve gone through the full spectrum of problems from attitude issues to “borrowed” cars. And I’ve become quite experienced in how to be a boss of someone who won’t listen. My current driver has almost completed his third year in my employment.

Since 2002 everyone keeps telling me that the ban will be lifted by the end of this year. The end of this year becomes the end of next year and then the year after that and somewhere along the line I’ve lost hope and resigned myself to dragging a strange man to all my classes, on all my errands and to wait outside the gates of houses I visit. However on April 14th, 2010 it seems that something has changed and I can finally see a thin line of hope on the horizon. Riyadh Newspaper, one of the more conservative papers in Saudi Arabia ran an extensive piece not on whether or not women should be allowed to drive cars but on how that can actually be implemented on the ground. The title was literally “Women driving cars…how do we start its implementation”. They interviewed several influential people including sheikhs, professors of sociology and a retired general. But the real deal was sheikh Al Ghaith, his was one of the first photos in the article and don’t be fooled by how young he looks. He’s actually a PhD holder and is far from your typical camera chasing sheikh. More importantly he has the ears of some of the big decision makers of the country. Currently he is a judge at Riyadh’s district court. It’s even rumored that he has the final say when it comes to the death penalty. I would almost go as far as to say that the whole article was a frame for Al Ghaith to subtlety inform the muttawas that the time has come to compromise on this issue.

The article got a lot of attention and had 1625 comments, on average a comment a minute yesterday!

On a lighter note, my shewolf friend had gone out for a few more joyrides since that night.


Filed under Women campaigns, Women driving

35 responses to “The turning point

  1. That does seem to be a glimmer light. I hope it happens before you have to move on to the next driver.

  2. Ehmm ..
    it seems it will never happen .. not soon not even in the near future.
    I’m so fed up of what they write in the newspaper, they have been writing stuff for ages now and no action what so ever.
    Ms. Eman the issue of women driving a car
    comes from traditional people who are still holding tight to their culture.
    they don’t want women to drive. They don’t want’em to compete against men.
    so basiclly even when they start implementing some of women rights.. only libral or openminded family would allow their girls to drive a car..
    I believe they should give women the right to drive a car without having to get back to a male guardian! that would be real implmentation.

    AND they need to teach men how to behave among women !!!!!!!!!!!!!! they have no clue on how to behave when deading with a woman.
    stinky drivers.. hahahah
    yeah I believe we all as Saudi women have to deal with stinky drivers.!
    but I’m telling you Ms. Eman .. its just a matter of time before the bad smell kills your smelling buds hahahah !!!
    and then no driver will smells bad anymore. 😛

  3. Usman

    Congrats that Ice is melting, finally. Until that time, why don’t you go for “Shewolf Joyrides”? and let us know about your adventure. Don’t forget to take the camera with you. It would be a thrilling post from you. I’m waiting for one….:) , and let me choose the title for that upcoming post,..ummm…
    Eman the WolfBlogger 🙂

  4. Usman

    “Indians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Bangladesh…I’ve ridden with all kinds and unfortunately smells.”


    • Max

      Sounds like you’re saying the ‘Nationality’ Stinks….

      I sense some bigotry here!!

      • Usman

        That was my failed attempt to make a smiley face. Don’t put your judgment on me.

      • ali

        I do not think she was implying that certain nationalities stink. She is pointing out a fact.. Drivers, 80% ( being fair).. no matter where they come from ( thats why she has a list of nationalities, including her own).. are smelly. If you go on one of my blogs: , you will see an entry : Summer Smells.. it is a true story about what I did to a driver when I took a taxi one day.

      • Nabeel

        Well I would suggest you Saudis to try working 16+ hours a day for 400 Dirhams a month in the searing desert heat. Then we’ll find out who’s really smelly. It’s easy to make generalizations sitting comfortably in your air conditioned homes.

  5. Marcus

    How utterly barbaric and a sickness running through the Male dominated society that forces their women to cover their whole bodies in black clouds and completely and legally ban their women folk from driving a car????? Is this really the 21st century? You will be telling me next it is illegal or frowned up for Saudi women to have phones… 😉

    All of the Saudi women know what is needed.. The good brave beautiful women of Saudi will challenge the rules and break the chains… First should be that horrible black cloud you have to wear… I am so sorry that men force you to do this.. Please understand, men are not all the same..
    Have a great day all of you..

  6. Marcus

    Prodesse Quam Conspici…

  7. I’m keeping my fingers crossed – but I don’t think I’m going to hold my breath…

    • Marcus

      Susie… Hi ya, hope your well and good.. a pleasure to talk to you..

      Yes, dont hold your breath, maybe throw off that face covering might be a first step.. 😉

      Love is the key.

      • ali

        You know what Marchus..
        I want to invite you to ksa and arrange a stay for you in Qassim for a month. You will go back a happy , enlightened man.:)

      • ali

        I would like to invite you to KSA, Markhus.
        Will arrange a 1 month stay at Qassim. You will go back really LOVED and ENLIGHTENED.

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  9. nisa


    when you ladies start driving, welcome to the world of my car is better than yours, cut you off loser, why are you driving so slow *frown*, honk honk HONK! etc. so brace yourself.

    & yeah if someone treated you like a lower caste on the roads, its nothing personal! 🙂

  10. nisa

    I don’t intend to offend, only since Saudi ladies seems so protected – I just hope the best for you when you make that step. Baba Ali did a comment about the driving in Saudi on YouTube when he went to hajj.

  11. nisa

    Ohh & the lower caste treatment is not about the Saudis. I just say it from my own personal experience.

  12. rumor mill had it there has been a womans driving school in Jeddah for some time now. It is a big step and I don’t think it will be “women can drive today”. But when it happens, I’m driving my car over the bridge into Saudi.. by myself just well because.

    My point of objection in this whole if women will drive or not.. is that women still will not be able to choose on their own to drive anyway. So I don’t view women driving as a big step towards their individual freedom of choice.

    But a whole other issue I suppose

  13. rita

    regarding stinky drivers, while it may be true to a certain point, but for the most part you saudi just have an arrogant perspective on third world countries. as if you saudis are very clean and hygenic—-i am sure your drivers take a bath every day perhaps even twice during the summer—perhaps you saudis can give them a little extra money to buy deodarants if the soaps are not good enough.
    regarding women allowed to drive, its not going to happen until at least another decade or so, and even then i cant say i am sure—-in fact there is a higher chance that your oil will run out but women driving will not be allowed—although ironically, if your oil did run out, most saudis wouldnt be able to afford foreign drivers and thus would have to allow their females to drive. in reality, oil has prove to be a curse in disguise for saudi arabia.

    • ali

      Have you ever lived in KSA rita? You seem pretty jealous of Saudis? Read the post again.. nationalities of drivers INCLUDES .. SAUDI..!

  14. Laurea

    Loved this post Eman!!I am so excited, this is great news! Inshallah this will slowly lead to implementation.
    can you tell us, what are the comments on the article, in general negative or positive?male/female views?

    Im sure Emad didnt mean anything racist with the stinky comment, she is just trying to describe the unnatural, awkward, unpleasant situation of being in a small space with a strange man. Some of them DO stink. But she didnt say they stink BECAUSE they are bangladeshi, indian,pakistani etc. Did you notice she mentioned the drivers are also saudi sometimes?
    For example, many drivers chain smoke, so they stink of cigarettes-nothing to do with hygiene issues. Others use WAY too much cologne-stinky-but not unhygienic. So maybe you should think a little bit before you accuse someone of being arrogant.
    And your comment “as if you saudis are very clean and hygenic” lol that is just too funny 😀
    Are you aware that muslims wash for praying at least 5 times a day, and most saudis love perfumes, bokhoor and in general this is a very pleasant “smelling” nation 🙂

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  16. Max

    I do hope women in Saudi will as a 1st step, be allowed complete freedom to drive – alone!!

    Here in Kuwait – I feel – there are more women drivers than men. However, just across the border, there are unjust restrictions!

    In time things will change as long as there are voices ready to be raised against such injustices!!

    Well done!!

  17. I am so happy that we reach to a point that we’re really turning to the right direction. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that nothing would change before we get the women driving..

    however, I won’t consider this a big change! because allowing females to drive is more natural right than a just right!! we are the only country in the world that won’t allow females to drive!!
    wish it is a small step for females to get their full rights.

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  19. Ellen

    This was a great post. I really do think it will happen sometime in the near future.

  20. Nabeel

    First time on your blog…It’s interesting but as an Indian I was offended by the phrase “I’ve ridden with all kinds and unfortunately smells”. Please don’t feel offended if call all Saudis oppressive bigots.

    • Why would you be offended? you’re the one that’s projecting racism. As someone who has “ridden with all kinds and unfortunately smells”, I’ve found that stinkiness has little relation to nationality or race. It’s more of an individual hygiene issue.

      • Nabeel

        As Max has pointed out that is NOT what one would infer by reading this –

        “Over the years I have had in my employment about eight or nine drivers; Indians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Bangladesh…I’ve ridden with all kinds and unfortunately smells.”

        Sadly, you seem to reinforce the view that Saudi’s generally look upon the expatriate population as nothing but slaves.

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