Wednesday, February 1, 2017

San Francisco Protest of Uber on February 9, 2017

Today I heard from Michael Stone about an upcoming protest to be held in San Francisco on Thursday, February 9, 2017 regarding Saudi women driving and Uber. His message is below. His message includes links - to sign a petition and learn about the event from the facebook page.

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I have enjoyed some recent blog posts of yours regarding Saudi Women Drivers.

We thought you might be interested in an upcoming protest created by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.

On Thursday, 9 February, at 1pm, CODEPINK & supporters will deliver a petition signed by over four thousand people to Uber's San Francisco headquarters. The petition demands that CEO Travis Kalanick call on the King of Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on women driving!

The event: https://www.facebook.com/events/648485408689170/

The petition: http://www.codepink.org/uber

We hope you write about the action! Thank you very much for all you do.

Michael Stone
San Francisco

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Manal al-Sharif's Memoir - Daring to Drive now available on Amazon for pre-order

The long-awaited memoir by Saudi driving activist and public speaker Manal al-Sharif is scheduled for publication on June 13, 2017. The title is "Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening". You can read about the book and pre-order it on amazon.com. Here is the page for the book.

Link to Daring to Drive on amazon.com


I wish Ms. al-Sharif all success with her memoir and look forward to reading it.
























Saudi women must be allowed to help develop the economy

Opinion piece in the Saudi English language daily, the Saudi Gazette of January 14, 2017, penned by Yousef Al-Mehaimeed. A link to the story can be found here and the text is below.

Decades have passed and some social issues remain unresolved. Most members of the public consider these issues complicated and feel that they cannot be solved while other countries, including some Gulf states, view them as natural obstacles that can be overcome. Why is it that neighboring countries with which we have many things in common in terms of heritage, history and traditions, have solved these problems while we have not? People around the world are making fun of us.
Several of these issues are related to women driving, traveling and exercising. In other words, the main issues are about women. We have not taken any drastic action to end these problems. As a result, we continue to suffer socially and economically. I would like to focus here on those detractors who describe male guardians who allow their female relatives to work in the medical field as men who lack in manhood.
I do not understand why these people hold this viewpoint. It is really a shame and a disgrace. Do they want our hospitals and pharmacies to be run by expatriate doctors and nurses? Why do they accuse male guardians of not being proper men? What if there was a war or some sort of dispute that led to these expatriate nurses and doctors returning home, what would we do?
Around two decades ago, our country experienced tough and harsh economic conditions. We had to find an alternative income source. One of the suggested solutions was to impose a tax on expatriate workers in our country. When the medical circles got wind of the suggestion, many expatriate doctors and nurses working for a big hospital in Riyadh went on strike.
Work at the hospital came to a complete halt, which resulted in exacerbating the health conditions of some patients who were suffering from dangerous medical problems. The imposition of taxes on expatriates never materialized because we did not have Saudi replacements that could run the hospital.
Today, there are some Saudis who are against giving women an efficient role in building our economy and permitting them to take on more social roles. But if a disaster occurred and our security conditions deteriorated and expatriate workers decided to leave our country, we would suffer immensely as a result. We need to get rid of our illusions and eradicate all the social shackles that continue to prevent women from playing their natural role as partners of men.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Meet Wazna: Saudi elderly woman who drives a truck

Your faithful blogger somehow missed this article and video when it was published in October, 2016 by al-Arabiyya. Note the subject is covering her face with fabric to retain some privacy, but since she is filmed with her husband and her voice is not disguised, no doubt her family knows she was filmed driving and it's socially accepted among the people living in the desert. The article, including a link to the video of her interview in Arabic is pasted in below and a link to the article is here. 



Despite popular beliefs, many women in Saudi Arabia drive their cars in order to run errands and get from place to place. (Al Arabiya)
She does not own a driver’s license, but that is no obstacle for Wazna, who has been driving her truck in the open desert of al-Dahna ever since she was a child.
She has been driving for such a long time that she knows the entry and exit points of al-Dahna desert more than her male counterparts.
But Wazna is not alone.
Despite popular beliefs, many women in Saudi Arabia drive their cars in order to run errands and get from place to place.

One woman whom AlArabiya.net spoke to, but refused to have her photograph taken, said: “I drive a pick-up truck not for any specific reasons but simply helps me get my daily chores done, like getting water tanks delivered from their source to our home.”
In Saudi Arabia, no penal code exists that explicitly states that women are forbidden from driving. The government simply does not issue any licenses to women, who mostly rely on personal male drivers or relatives to get around.
For Wazna, the decision to drive is clear.
“I have to drive as my family depends on me to help them around the desert,” she told AlArabiya.net.
*A version of this article was originally published on AlArabiya.net.
Last Update: Tuesday, 18 October 2016 KSA 19:10 - GMT 16:10

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Saudi Shura member argues for women’s right to drive

The Gulf News reports on the impassioned argument by Dr. Latifa Al Shaalan, a female member of the Shura Council in favor of women driving. A link to the story is here, and the text is below. The speaker is an associate professor of Psychology, and addresses the many contradictory and challenging issues surrounding the question of women driving. This blogger believes her voice, being raised in this forum, is significant.

Women members of the Saudi Shura Council
Manama: A female member of the Saudi Shura (Consultative) Council has issued a strong appeal to allow women to drive, saying that it was a right that cannot be denied on religious, social or economic grounds.

Addressing a council session, Dr Latifa Al Shaalan said the claim that “the time is not appropriate yet to allow women to drive as the country is facing internal and external challenges” was not true or valid.

“We have been facing internal and external challenges since the state was founded by King Abdul Aziz, and if we look carefully at our history in the last 50 years, we will say, according to this logic, that no time was ever appropriate to allow women to drive since we are always in the midst of a tumultuous ocean of challenges,” she said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia is a vast and influential country with great political weight located in a sweltering region, and it is normal that it faces numerous challenges, she added.

“However, these challenges cannot stall reforms and if we embrace their distorted logic, then development, reforms and progress in all areas would have stopped since the existence of challenges makes the time for them inappropriate,” she said.

Al Shaalan, a writer and an associate professor of psychology, also refuted the claim that society was not ready to accept the idea of women driving cars.

“It is incredible how some people demonised Saudi men and considered him a beast always ready to jump on women. This prejudice has been repeated so often that it has become a label characterising Saudi men wherever they go in Saudi Arabia or abroad. It is an unfair characterisation because Saudi men carry in them and with them genuine Islamic morals and Arab values. The young people that we rush to discredit and turn into demons are in fact our sons who grew up in our homes and graduated from our schools. They often competed in serving people honestly and protecting our national borders. There are of course exceptions, but these are deterred by the law,” she said.
The claim that Saudi society is different from other societies is unacceptable and offensive, she added.

“How is the society in Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan safe and allows its women to drive, while our Saudi society with all its great values not safe? The allegation that our society is not ready for women drivers is not supported by the reality on the ground. Our society has accepted the various reforms, such as the membership of women in the Shura Council and the holding of municipal elections. Our society is mature and the political authority is strong, stable and determined to deter those who break the public order,” she said.

The allegation that allowing women to drive was not a priority for the country was a fallacious argument, Al Shaalan said.

“This claim has opened the door for a wide array of erroneous assertion, as if allowing women to drive would prevent addressing other issues such as unemployment and housing. Rights cannot be categorised by priorities because nobody has the right to decide the scale of priorities which differ vastly depending on their conditions. What is a priority for some is not necessarily a priority for others.”

The Shura member said that not allowing women to drive has caused them great harm and stalled their rights and interests.

“This is totally unfair because one of the major aims of Islam is to ensure justice for all. Islam has asserted equality between men and women in the origin of creation, responsibilities and tasks. Islam has asserted equality in human dignity and civil rights, such as choosing the spouse, ownership, and all kinds of selling and purchasing transactions. How is it possible that after all these advantages granted by Islam, women are not allowed to drive?”

Al Shaalan argued that allowing women to drive would be beneficial for the national economy and would empower women economically, especially that unemployment rates among women were high.
“The fact that women cannot move easily is a formidable obstacle to them getting jobs, especially in the private sector,” she said.

The 150-seat Shura Council has 30 women members.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prince Waleed bin Talal: It's Time for Saudi Women to Drive

On November 29, 2016, Time's Madeline Farber reports that Prince Waleed bin Talal has tweeted in favor of women driving. A link to the story and video is here,  and the text and video are pasted below.

"It is high time that Saudi women started driving their cars"

A member of the Saudi royal family has broken with long-established tradition and called for the country to allow women to drive.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal posted a letter Tuesday titled “It is High Time that Saudi Women Started Driving their Cars,” to his Twitter account. Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not permitted to drive.
“Preventing a woman from driving a car today is an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” he wrote.
Alwaleed went on to list financial, economic, social, religious, and political factors that women should be allowed to drive there.
Alwaleed wrote that allowing women to drive cars would lead to job growth, and notes that it comes as a “necessity,” not a “social luxury” as it has been in the past—writing that there’s an “urgent social demand predicated upon current economic circumstances.”
But Alwaleed’s beliefs are a drastically different from the country’s deputy crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. In April, he said that he’s “not convinced about women driving,” citing social, not religious, reasons for his opinion.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Saudi advisory council rejects study of women driving

Now AFP has come out with a more nuanced report on what happened in the Shoura Council, it was a proposal to make a study about women driving. Apparently this proposal was rejected, seemingly over the proper process.... A link to the story is here, and the text is below, taken from the UK's Daily Mail of November 2, 2016.

Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, which advises the cabinet, has turned down a proposal to study the issue of women's driving, a Shura member told AFP on Wednesday.
The kingdom has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.
At a meeting this week, a male member of the appointed council suggested the study, said another member who declined to be named.
He said the enquiry would have looked at: "What are the difficulties if they start? What is required to allow them to drive?"
But the proposal failed to get the required 50 percent plus one support among the council's 150 members, who include 30 women.
The council can make non-binding recommendations to the government but it has no legislative powers.
Activists say women's driving is not technically illegal but that the ban is linked to tradition and custom.
A slow expansion of women's rights began under the late king Abdullah, who named them to the Shura Council in 2013.
He also announced that women could for the first time vote and run in municipal elections. At least 20 women were elected for the 2,106 contested council seats last December.
Some activists have challenged the driving ban by getting behind the wheel and posting images of themselves online.
Other Saudi women, however, believe change cannot be forced -- a message the kingdom's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, gave in April when he unveiled the Vision 2030 plan for economic diversification and social change.
"So far the society is not persuaded -- and it has negative influence -- but we stress that it is up to the Saudi society," he said, commenting on whether women should drive.
The Vision and its associated National Transformation Programme target an increase in the proportion of female workforce participation from 23 to 28 percent by 2020.