The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains to be not just the only Muslim country and but the only country in the world which does not allow the country’s women to drive. But the traditional conventions of the deeply conservative society might have started to crumble.
More and more Saudi citizens are challenging conventional laws, demanding more freedom and liberties as advances in communications technologies as well as the recent events in the Middle East seem to be affecting the Saudi society significantly.
Najla Hariri, a 45-year-old Saudi woman and the mother of five, decided to rebel against the country’s ban on female drivers by taking her challenge to the roads of Jeddah. Last week, Ms Hariri began to drive around Jeddah. The BBC reports that she might be the only woman who is regularly driving in the city.
Ms Hariri holds a driving license from Egypt and Lebanon and holds an international license that she uses when driving in Europe. She has her husband’s support and is said to have been inspired by recent events in the Middle East. Many of her friends and relatives are also said to be proud of Ms Hariri.
Ms Hariri says that there is no law in the country against female driving but only society’s conventions. However, the conventions seem to function as de facto law since Ms Hariri realizes that she might be stopped by the police at any moment. But the brave woman says she’s had enough of it. “Enough is enough,” she told the BBC. “I have the right to [drive].”
In response to the idea that the Saudi society protects the country's women by not allowing them to drive -- and the idea that women in Saudi Arabia are treated like "queens" -- Mr Hariri said that the country's rulers are lying to themselves. Women feel safer by driving themselves, she said. She is also trying to set an example by encouring other women to disobey the law. A Facebook campaign called "I will drive starting June 17" has garnered the support of thousands of women who are willing to follow Ms Hariri's lead.