My favorite daydream

If you’re sick and tired of reading my posts on lifting the women driving ban, don’t go any further. I’m sick of it too. I truly believed that by now some sort of change would have happened. Around April there were all these strong rumors and alleged leaks that the ban would be lifted by September. October is almost over and nothing has happened except the fact that over the summer everybody was quiet in anticipation. Maybe that was the whole aim of all that talk and those articles earlier; so that the country could take a break from people like me nagging.

Over the break, instead of spilling my frustrations over the ban on the blog, I would daydream. Different scenarios would go through my head. Images of Saudi women rediscovering their capabilities and humanity, finally being able to move freely. And the wonderful practicalities of saving money on not having to import foreign men, put them up and pay them wages. Not having to pay for twice the gas because now you can park your car rather than have the driver go home. Not having to see a stranger’s shoulders tense up because of what music you play in your own car. No longer hearing about women forced to stay home or fired because of transportation issues. Stories about women paying most of their salaries to the driver, just so they could get to work would become part of our country’s collective memory.

Then the what ifs set in. What if they don’t lift the ban by September? What if they never lift the ban? What could I do? I could go all Ghandi, and starve myself until they do. I would document every day on the blog until finally I post something like: “no longer hungry…experiencing out of body sensations”. And still they wouldn’t lift the ban. Of course when I tell my friends this, they say “Eman besides it being silly, honey you’ve never been able to stick to a diet, not even for your wedding day. The only way you would starve is if you really couldn’t find food”. Sadly, they’re right. I can’t think of anything else though. So while I chop and sauté the perquisite onions (الكشنة) for all Saudi dishes, I ponder the questions of when it will happen, how wonderful it would be and what I could do to help it happen sooner.


Filed under Eman, Popular, Women driving

47 responses to “My favorite daydream

  1. We share your dream also, but in reality, without female police officers (to presumably detain the ladies that break traffic rules) as a first step, I do not see this happening.

    I wrote a post last year about this

    Again I would love to see it happen, but… unless we see steps taken that lead to it… I am not holding my breath… yet!

    • Qusay

      You are full of shit. Everywhere in the rest of the world women drive and go where they have to just like men. If they break the law they deal with whatever officer they draw. Not everyone breaks the law.

      Weak, fool, weak.

  2. Francine

    Dear Saudi friend,
    I love your blog so much and appreciate your honest talks and remarks so much.
    I’m Franch, leaving in Bahrain for 2 years.
    Sorry to ask you that but it isn’t clear for me what the term “the ban” is including exactely: ban of driving?

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  4. Enjoy it as always, let them a ban on men driving, try that for a while and see how many women could take it.


  5. It’s not going to happen any time soon Eman.
    I daydream about it too sometimes. 😦

    2 months ago I was driving the car on the beach and there was this voice inside of me whispers .. drive in the main street Omaima..
    man … couldn’t helpt it..

    I turned right on to the main street – and it was day time, windows open …I drove 80km\h and I felt so good.

    Perhabs you should do the same.

    • robin

      Omaima, what do you mean you drove on the main street? What city? What happened? No one said anything? Maybe that’s what has to happen. A collective “intifada” where all women that CAN drive, agree on the day and just DO it!! Can you imagine!!!!!!!

      Eman, I mentioned in your education post that we would be moving there soon. This ban on driving is a major damper on the move for me. I have 4 kids at home and can’t imagine not driving them to visit friends, or for that matter, ME visiting while hubz is at work! Let me say that I am totally against this “driver” idea on religious grounds.

      Is it realistic for me to expect my husband to be willing to spend an hour in a supermarket after a hard day’s work? He seems to think it will be just fine. 😦

      • Robin – Unless you employ a full-time driver, I cannot imagine your family being happy here. We moved here 3 years ago with one teenage son, and he is now back in the states finishing high school. I used to drive him everywhere and do things together with him in FL, but here, my husband hates to drive and we do not have a driver. You and the kids will be stuck at home, and when your husband does drive you places, he will complain about all the responsibilities he now has.
        My advice – don’t do it – and especially reconsider if any of your children are girls. That’s a whole ‘nother issue.

  6. You are going to make it. It is inevitable. An old Tom Petty song – everyone’s had to fight to be free you don’t have to live like a refugee. Don’t give up. Everything you do is an example and has meaning. And where the hell are your men who should be supporting you? I wish I was there with you right now.

  7. Rafid Fatani

    I share your dream (without conditions!) – This summer my family visited me (I reside in the UK), and when I heard the rumours, I suggested that both my younger sisters get a few driving lessons here.. cut a long story short, they didn’t ‘have time’, and the law never changed!

    Maybe we need a kind of flash-mob style PR campaign, with ‘liberal’ (I dont use this word lightly) media on side, and the backing and support of big wiggs!

    The truth of the matter is its a sad state of affairs! and I wish something would happen! you mentioned the rumour about last September, maybe “they” felt not enough enthusiasm was caused by it? who knows!

  8. robin

    Susie, my husband complaining about the “extra” driving is something I think I can count on. He said he’s hiring a driver, but I’m not interested in that solution.

    Well, we have to go, no questions about it – anymore. That’s where the work is and we are giving it a year. Inshallah khair.

  9. Erin

    I simply have one question? Am I safer in the car with a strange man driving me or by myself? I still don’t know why they won’t let us drive.? Don’t tell me because there are no women police officers…..that is simply stupid. So you are actually telling me that I, a woman am more safe in a car with a man driving me that can just go off in the dessert and take me wherever and then no one can find me and do just whatever he pleases with me or even kill me and no one would know until it was too late. Or I could drive myself and maybe get a flat tire in a well lite street, because really how often do I drive off in the desert by myself, were I could phone my husband or a relative to come and help me change it or wait in a near by store till someone shows up. No where in ISLAM does it say it is haram for women to drive. This subject is all but stupid. This is the only country in the entire world were I am robbed of my simple freedoms. Even my Saudi husband agrees with me!!!! That is my 2 cents anyway!!!!

    • robin

      Excellent, Erin!

      Another reason to let us drive there. The stats on that very scenario would be interesting. I’m like you in thinking of the worst that could happen were I to rely on a stranger to run my errands with me. (My kids think I watch “too much Oprah,” whom I gave up years ago). But, yes, that is a valid point and considering Saudi prides itself on being religiously correct, the idea of leaving the women folk alone with a non-mahram or any male just to get from A to B goes against the religion.
      Is it OK to sit in a car with a driver,usually non Arab, (where shaitan is always the 3rd), but at home be separated into male & female rooms, all in the name of Islam?

      Unfortunately, this issue won’t be solved in this forum.

    • SmurfBurkan

      The thing is Erin, some scholars in KSA has come out with fatawas that state that women and drivers are not permissable… The strange thing though is that women driving (which has extremely lame motives why it’s forbidden) is forbidden, while male drivers are not… Double standards again. It is the same with the guradianship-crap. A man must obey his parents, expecially his mother. And a woman should be obedient to her parents the same way, or her husband (and all this “obedience” and how you interpret it depends on you cultural background… Believe me, I am a “conservative” wearing the niqab but I am chocked how some muslim women live around the world…) BUT WHY DOESN’T THE MAN NEED APPROVAL FROM HIS PARENTS???? It’s the same OBEDIENCE in Islam. Actually, there is no logic and no actual proof in Islam for the current guardianship system in KSA.

      The BIGGEST tragedy though is the fact that some women are completely brainwashed that they support their own opression and the systematic removal of their God-given rights as women and human beings… (remember an instance where a woman asked about the all-women underwear shops said that “bad things happens there”…. SubhanAllah, but it is better to buy red sexy nightgowns from a strange man.. that is more modesty and shyness? No logic, no independent thoughts and no reflection)

    • Well, I think not. I am a professional bus driver, and transport about 400-600 passengers a day. Both men, woman and children. No problem here. I earn my own money and both men, women and children admire us women bus drivers for the good work we doo. We are 11 female drivers now working. We are often thanked for them getting safely to their destination. So they have no right in anyting they say in your country.

      Just keep your head high and keep up the good work. 🙂

  10. SmurfBurkan

    Me and you are two who both share, and don’t share, similar opinions… But one thing is sure, the only way Saudi is going to drop this un-Islamic “interpretation” of Islam (what’s up with the guradianship-crap and not driving?) is if the Saudi culture (certain parts of it, I think you undertand which ones) is reformed. ISLAM is in no need for reform or modernization, however every religion (and Islam is no exeption) is coloured by culture and with that how you interpret certain parts of the religion.
    I am a “conservative” in the sense that I stick to the Quran and Sunnah and to the “traditional” interpretations of Islam, I don’t want any reform. I even wear the niqab and whether it is wajib or mustahabb it is a part of the shariah. However, the “muslim” culture all over the world is in need of modernization. We don’t live in a chauvinistic, misogynistic 12th century world. “Islam” in KSA must be the most “double-standard-version” of Islam I’ve come across.

  11. robin

    🙂 Smurfburkan!

  12. AJ

    Discussions like this, and posts like, this do help. It brings out some of the excellent points that have been made in the original posting and these comments.

    Remember that a single drop of water falling on the same spot of a rock will wear a hole right through it. (sorry, I can’t remember if there is a source for this.) Not all change has to be like a rushing downpour of water. Sometimes it is like the single drops accumulating; drops like the ideas and conversations on this blog which in turn create other on- and off-line conversations. How many of you reading this have forwarded the blog post, link, or discussed it with someone? The ripple effect is powerful.

    Stay positive because thinking negatively about this situation only adds to the negative energy surrounding it. I just read about the Julia Butterfly Hill who lived in a redwood tree for two years in order to save it and the surrounding trees from being cut down (which she was successful in doing). She said in an interview on ‘The Taoist and the Activist’ that she did it because she felt her connection to the world through the redwoods. Also, she said we manifest what we focus on so guess what happens when we focus on what we don’t like and don’t want? My mind also recalls hearing a quote from Mother Teresa that she would attend a rally for peace but not an anti-war rally.

    The mind slips past the word ‘not’ and only hears the active noun. If you tell your kids “Don’t lose your mittens” they are more likely to than if you say, “Remember to bring your mittens home.”

    So, in this matter it would be important to say, “One day women in Saudi will be able to drive themselves” as opposed to “Women won’t be able to drive themselves for a long time, if ever.”

    If there is a mass movement I hope the placards say ‘Freedom of movement for all!’ instead of ‘Freedom not bans!’ Having a day where all women who can drive go out and do it sounds like a very nice peaceful statement.

    Thank you, Eman, for such thought-provoking posts.

    May God guide each of us on the straight Path.


  13. You have already heard me rant over and over again in person about this ridiculous ban. It’s weird that when I travel outside and I initially see a woman driving, my first instinct is SHOCK, and then from shock to being proud that a woman is able to be behind the wheel (and this is just 6 years after living here).

    I have been told over and over that the ban will be over, that they have been busy constructing a womens section for the driving school, and offices to issue the licence, that we would be allowed the right to chose whether we want to drive or not soon very soon, but now, I sit here looking at my one year old son, and wonder if HE will be driving legally in Saudi before I can?

    Sometimes I feel like I am living a dream (not a good one), can it really be true that there is a country in the year 2010, that still does not allow a person to drive merely because of what sex they were born into? Can a women of 30 really not be smart/intelligent/ or human enough to drive when a 16 year old boy is given the keys to a new car without a second thought?

  14. I can’t speak to the culture and laws of KSA, but what I can say is it took a very long time for women in America to gain what we have (not to say we don’t have a long way to go.) It was less than 100 years ago that we couldn’t vote. It was less than 50 years ago that we couldn’t use birth control. It was less than 30 years ago that we couldn’t have credit in our own names, without our husbands.

    Change comes slowly, far more slowly than it should, but it doesn’t come at all unless people like you work for it. Don’t give up.

    • Alicia

      But was it hope, protest and the like that gave us our freedom here? I have my doubts. I read the wonderful feminist writers/reasoners of the west and see that they were mostly ignored. It wasn’t the wonderful reasoning that gave women their independence. I am aware that the real move towards women’s suffrage began because the western states needed women to relocate so they used the vote as a carrot (I guess they needed a certain kind of woman because women had gone west already but many often either worked as men or as prostitutes). Women went into the workforce through the wars and then economic trouble; ie the men felt they had to allow it or it was useful to an agenda they had. I suspect that there are some very interesting social, economic and political forces that have to come together for women to achieve independence. Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but the amount of violence against women all around the world is so appalling that it seems an amazing aberration when women are respected and treated as independent and capable human beings.

  15. Jenna

    If you could gather 3,000 women to protest… really what will the Saudi men do? I think what needs to happen is a good old fashioned large number protest. There is strength in numbers and the small handfuls of 100 here 20 there isn’t enough to overwhelm. Are there enough Saudi women willing to be brave and organize for something this big?

    • SmurfBurkan

      There is the big chance that the opposition for womens right will become even stronger, we must remember that the Saudi society is very misogynistic and conservative. Women going out in protest would be considered as women without modesty, religion and being “westernized” and that would only be contraproductive. Personally, I don’t want a removal of Islam and religion. However there is a great need of reform and the perception and view on women. You need religious leaders who stand up for womens rights. As Saudiwoman has mentioned several times, you have “tradition” scholars who actually do find the current state as anti-Islamic however they are “weak” in the sense that they can’t do much by themsleves. And the goverment doesn’t want any change. They are fully happy with the current state of KSA while going on vacations to Europe to have illegal sex with little boys and prostitutes (and sorry for bringing this up but this is a reality which is well known in Europe). They are not interested in religion or what is best for their country – the latest contraversy regarding the fatawa and strange verdicts from certain scholars (that were place there by the goverment in the first place) was only a way to distract the masses away from the real problem. There is no real shariah, there is a perverted view on the religion (double standars and picking and choosing what suits them) and therefore women here in Europe have, if they want, more ability to preserve their modesty. No male staff to sell sexy clothes, no need for driver if I have a car and license etc…
      This was maybe not the most well written text but hope it is readable enough 🙂

  16. I couldn’t agree more. Not only have we become frustrated, but it’s ENOUGH! We have to deal with incompetent drivers 3-5 times a day just because of this… I wish men would realize what we go through just to go to college/work.

  17. Leonora

    Nothing will happen if the enslaved Saudis continue “wishing.”

    They need to act! Evidently, it they don’t want their freedom enough to do anything about their lack of human rights.

  18. Per Gylterud

    Men of quality, are not afraid of equality


  19. American Muslimah

    Over here in America (U.S.A) women get into crazy car accidents, and when they do, they get out of the car and start flying some cuss words. Imagine how Saudi women would act?? You women are better off not driving and allowing someone else do the driving.

    • Oh please – that is the most absurd reason I’ve ever heard for women in KSA to be happy they are not allowed to drive here and saying that we are better off for it. Try living here yourself and see how YOU like being denied things at every turn just because you are a woman.

    • SmurfBurkan

      And when men get into car accidents and start screaming and cursing that is OK according to you I suppose? There is no statistic that women get involved in more car accidents than men, I have never heard about this in any country ever. Once again, the motivation to why women are not allowed to drive are extremely unlogical and hypocritical and again there is no ground in our shariah for something like that. If there are ANY problems whatsoever with women driving then as sincere Muslims we should tackle those problems (they are definitely not the women). But that is just the usual methodology Muslims of today adopt… make the “surface problems”go away and don’t give a shit about the core issues… it’s just easier that way..

      Please women of the world, and especially Muslim women don’t join the mysoginistic men while stipping away your every right as a human being, muslim and woman you have…

    • Alicia

      If American women curse, imagine how Saudi women would act? I think some would act better and some worse, but I doubt they would act like American non-muslim women. We have a very in-your-face culture where people take advantage of you if you don’t fight. Besides, why should Saudis restrict themselves because of our behaviour? That’s as bad as all the arguments in the US that Americans should limit American muslims because of how Saudi’s behave.

    • Whereas, when the men get into car accident, they politely apologize to the other person, even when it is not their fault. Why? Because that is how men are– little angles who would never never never use any cuss word. Please!! BTW I too live in the US and know what you wrote is BS

  20. Politico

    We, Arabs, have a looooooong way to go.

    Long gone are the memories of Al-Khansa’ or Hind. Forgotten are the fights of Layla Khaled and Dalal Al-Maghribi.

    We do not even have to look far to see strong, resilient women who will bust any Arab man’s or white woman’s chops. Look unto your sisters in Palestine!

    No, I am not asking that women become as shameless and misdirected as white women in Europe or America drinking their Cosmos, wearing their Pradas while thinking that the mere display of their vaginas is a form of revolutionary, Gucci-Marxist, Feminism! Well, gals, those idiots of SATC lied to you! That ain’t feminism!!


    What we are asking for is the ending of the brain/IQ suicide occurring in EVERY Arab society!!!

    Who says that a woman cannot advance the cause of her country as a minister, cook, CEO, labourer or surgeon?

    What is your problem????

    • Monica

      umh.. that’s an interesting post. So this is the way I’m considered by a part of muslim men: a white european women drinking my Cosmos, wearing my Pradas while thinking that the mere display of their vaginas is a form of revolutionary, Gucci-Marxist, Feminism.
      First: I’m white, yes, and I’m European and in the place where I live I can drink all I want, cosmos, included (but I dont’ ’cause I don’t like it).
      Second: I’m not wearing any Prada. I can’t afford the expense. I wear chip shoes.
      Third: I’ve never thought that my vagina was a form of revolutionary feminism.
      You have a distorted view of reality.
      Probably you watch too many tv. My personal idea of “feminist revolution” is the possibility to go to school, to choose the man to marry, to choose how many babies to give birth, to work, to drive, to go everywhere I want without to ask any permission. I’m not totally free: for example I can’t become a pries. For now. But we are working for the future.
      Please enlarge your world and start to consider eastern women like “normal persons” not like disables and western woman like persons who have a normal life made of “family&job” not like prostitutes!

      • angel

        people here are forgetting they live in the best and most blessed place and they are getting the freedom what quraan gives them and not the saudi prince if you want to live free then better live in west ..welll monica there is no doubt that the lives of women of west are no better than bitches you are give choice you get pregnant at 11 then live with a man with out marrying him dwell on child benefits and at 30 live divorced and want to live alone arent saudi women blessed ant leas they have a male inthier life?

    • Alicia

      There is something interesting in the story you linked to; The son wants to fail in school because he cannot stand being sponsored by a woman, even if it is his mother. By doing this he is causing all his mother’s work to be in vain, even if he believes it is better that he work instead of her. This is the real work of feminism: to counter the idea that women may not contribute. Until this idea is dead and buried world wide, women will not be respected. A man will only find true value in a woman when he realizes he is what he is because of the work of a woman. When men stop taking women’s work for granted and refuse to fail BECAUSE it would be disrespectful of her suffering and toil to do so, we will get somewhere as people.

  21. Peer

    Politico, your typical Arab male view of “white” women is a classic. Looks like your personal brain/IQ suicide was successful. How do you know so much about “white” women, unless of course you go after them as so many Arabs shamelessly do. Not that any decent white woman would have anything to do with the likes of you—a disrespectful Arab full of himself.

    It is filthy rich Arab women who are all into designer everything from abayas to Prada, Gucci and other designers. They go about the western world flaunting their wealth shamelessly, without much class while their men pursue those disdained “white” women. The Palestinian women are no better off than any other Arab women—nothing but a bunch of screeching shrews while being subservient to loser Arab men.

    FYI, vaginas are internal organs. No one can display them unless they murder and dissect a woman. Unless Arab men learn to respect themselves and women they will never make progress in the world. Instead, they will always be objects of derision and the butt of jokes. Once the oil runs out those filthy rich Arabs who purchase everything western with disrespect will once again become camel drivers.

    • Politico

      I live in what Crackers call a Western country and I know what I see and hear.

      So, I really do not need any honkeys telling me what I should know about you people!

      One more thing. PLEASE stay in your country and leave us alone.

      • Monica

        Politico wrote “One more thing. PLEASE stay in your country and leave us alone”.
        I’m staying in my own country, don’t worry. But those words are often used by the European Right to send away all those poor people to come here in Europe to look for a job, a place where live in or simply to look for a better life. Most of those poor people are from Arab world. So you are saying that the Right is right.
        I disagree. But in view of your opinion I expect you organize a fast repatriation from Europe. And as you are at stake, build a new wall to physicall separate our different cultures.

    • Alicia

      I think you could have disagreed with Politico without offering offense and insult to all the world’s decent Arab men and their families. Plenty of women of every ethnic group are chasing Gucci and from the clubs and the magazines they do seem to think it is a feminist statement to show off what should be private. This instead of working for real change. Where Politico is wrong is his assertion that it is just white women.

  22. concerned

    why don’t saudi women start fasting once in every month( say last Thursday of every month ) and do a special prayer to Allah at specific time to grand them the freedom of movement.(driving rights)
    Let it start from you and spread to whole Saudi women so that for sure your wishes will be fulfilled.
    Believe and start from this month. No one can stop you from fasting and praying. You no need any one permission to start this.

    • Monica

      There’s a proverb in my country.. “Help yourself and God will help you!”. The meaning is rather simple: don’t wait that things happen (or fall from the sky) but act right now so that things happen! Maybe to pray is a good idea.. but I doub that it’s enough.

  23. Dear Ms. Saudiwoman. I really feel for you living there. I do not envy you at all. I can clearly see why you have your daydreams.

    I am chocked over many tings I read on your blog that men do to you women. Not that I have not heard of it before, but actually reading it from a woman living there really gets to me.

    I am a woman and a professional bus driver, and transport about 400-600 passengers a day. Both men, woman and children. No problem here. I earn my own money and both men, women and children admire us female bus drivers for the good work we doo. We are 11 female drivers now working. And we drive busses that is over 7500 kg in weight. Most of them more than 13500 kg. We are often thanked by our passengers (men and women) for getting them safely to their destination. So they have no right in anyting they say in your country.

    Just keep your head high and keep up the good work. 🙂

  24. Monica

    Angel wrote: “people here are forgetting they live in the best and most blessed place and they are getting the freedom what quraan gives them and not the saudi prince if you want to live free then better live in west ..welll monica there is no doubt that the lives of women of west are no better than bitches you are give choice you get pregnant at 11 then live with a man with out marrying him dwell on child benefits and at 30 live divorced and want to live alone arent saudi women blessed ant leas they have a male inthier life?”
    Angel, in Europe, the place where I was born and where I live in, women don’t get pregnant at 11 (with the exception of some very rare cases in GB, and – well well, look here – from arab ethnic group who lives there). In Europe at 11 girls play with barbie. Western women don’t have fun to divorce or live alone, but some of them prefer to divorce then to get a unhuppy life. And I’m glad they have the freedom to choose. I think you mixed up the freedom to decide and arrange oneself life with to live without rules or moral. You mixed up the denied rights for the Saudi women with their being blessed up.

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