Saudi Women, little boys, and driving cars

Driving on the Saudi roads is very dangerous, Saudi has the highest death toll of any country in the world, according to last years’ count 17 deaths a day. Nevertheless, many Saudi families rely on very young boys to drive them around. In some families there may be no grown up men, or only very elderly men, and as women are not allowed to drive, the only option is a little boy, if they are lucky enough to have one.

It is quite common to see small boys drive grown up women around on Saudi roads.

Azza Al-Saeed, a university student whose underage brother drives her around, said, “We rely on my 14-year-old brother to get stuff from nearby shops, he does not drive outside the city and we call him often to make sure he is safe. He does not go to a place further than 30 minutes from home.” Al-Saeed explained that her father is old and cannot cope with all the driving demands, nor does he allow her and her sisters to take taxis or private drivers and wants them to be dropped only by their male guardians.

It may sound cool for a twelve year old to be allowed to drive a car, but when it’s ”work” it becomes old very quickly!

Umm Abdul Rahman’s 15-year-old son has been driving her around the city for 3 years. When Abdul Rahman was 12, he reportedly showed a passion for cars and began learning how to drive from his father. When he turned 12, his mother asked him to be her driver.
“I don’t allow him to go out on his own. I accompany him and make sure that he doesn’t speed and am always there in case of an emergency.”
Abdul Rahman said he used to like driving but grew tired of it quickly.
“In the beginning, it was fun. But now I hate it because it is a chore and takes me away from my friends,” he said.

Susie of Arabia took this photo in Jeddah:

photo by Susie of Arabia

Her comment:

”What really galls me is the fact that I – a responsible female driver with a proven track record of safety and skill and years of experience – am not allowed to drive here in Saudi Arabia, yet frequently I have seen children – specifically young boys – driving who are definitely not old enough to have a driver’s license.”

Read more:

Saudi Gazette

Arabian Business

Observer

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85 Responses

  1. Paintings misrepresent children who are driving in Ksa. Yellow shirt one looks 14 months not years. Oh and the blue shirt has dummy in his mouth. Never seen something like that! but have to say paintings are funny.

    Saying women should drive would prevent such things is just like saying alcohol should be bannd to prevent drunk-drive. Children well continue to drive even if women drive. Nighbouring countries have same problem even though women are driving there. Conclusion is the problem exist and need to be tackle but linking it to women not able to drive is misguiding or exaggeration. Allowing women to drive may reduce but not eliminate.

  2. So snowman, do you think women should drive but it is okay for boys?

  3. Should state should not drive.

  4. Wow, the system turns women into children and children into adults (or at least with adult responsibilities). I never thought about, before this blog post, how many people in Saudi are paying with their lives for the practice of not allowing women to drive. I can’t figure out why it is worth it to them.

  5. When I read the title I assumed that story was about how childish adult male drivers are. This is worse.

  6. Bigsticks1

    The comment was far from targeting the issue of whether women should be allowed to drive. It is simply about the fact that families are going to continue relying on children even if the ban has been lifted. This illustrate that the reliance on children is not only because of the current ban and if it is so then the lifting of the ban is not going to eliminate this reliance. This reliance in fact comes under broader pattern in the way children are dealt with by Saudi’s families. Some parents neglegently expouse thier children to diffrent kinds of risks. This will not go unaccounted for if happens in The UK for example. The child will be taken For social care. Unless this culture has changed, famillies will rely on children to drive them.

  7. Why don’t the car and health insurance companies insist that every Saudi driver go through driver’s training and be of a certain age? Doesn’t it make insurance more expensive for everyone if they have to pay for all of thes mangled cars and unnecessarily injured and dead people? Doesn’t fear of liability keep families from using their children this way? Are the families who do this, the normal, middle class educated families? That doesn’t seem imaginable cause all normal families want to protect their children not have them do things they aren’t trained for that could cost them their life, right?

  8. Desperate times.. What a picture! Thanks for this post. We have headlined with it on our Blog Roundup.

    http://www.albawaba.com/blog_roundup/saudi-boys-driving-434017

  9. It hasn’t got anything to do with age, experience, driving license or ability,
    Does the driver have a penis or not?
    If the driver has a penis even a monkey would be allowed to drive. But when the driver is an intelligent, experienced woman…
    Well…

    No penis, no driving!

  10. Lived there for couple of years. Saudi Arabia is indeed a land of contrasts and contradictions.

    Just as Carol pointed out, I also personally saw little boys 10-12 years old driving their moms and sisters in the back seats. Very scary. Also saw a lot of burned out expensive mercedes on the side of the roads. If you were in a car with a women who was not in your immediate family, they would arrest her for prostitution and you for pimping.

    And how can I forget the chop chop square and lash lash square!! So much for sharia law – lie, cheat, deceive, and kill and lash for its advancement.

    In Saudi, you see the most imbecilic things, like children driving and women not allowed to drive, that one has ever seen or heard. I agree: Have Penis, Will Drive. :)-

    Truly, more proof that the islamofascist world has failed to evolve. By several thousand years. Insane people. Just insane.

  11. Karen, most people will be uninsured, I think insurance is not allowed in Islam,isn’t it? Of course there are ways around this, like charging high costs instead of ”interest” when banking. Which is still interest but if you give it another name it’s ok.

    Snowman, the drawings are ”cartoons”,which means that they exaggerate this is supposed to be funny. But you are right, this is no laughing matter.
    Luckily the photo confirms the drawings.

    You make the assumption
    *the fact that families are going to continue relying on children even if the ban has been lifted&lt*
    We don't know if this is true until the lift on women driving is actually banned.
    But do you really think Saudi parents are so irresponsible and careless about their children's safety?
    I wonder. I would think many mothers would drive themselves.
    But we won't know until the ban is really lifted.
    I suppose the father who was sitting next to the toddler on the photo might keep on being this irresponsible.
    Why do you think Saudi parents are so careless about their children and driving? Parents I know are very serious about driving with children, tying them up in safety seats, etc.

  12. I thought it was very funny to read how Abdul Rahman wanted to drive as a small boy but got tired of it very quickly when he was roped in as a full time chauffeur!

  13. From he other story, where they call their small chauffeur regularly to make sure he is safe, I would say, please don’t do that: driving and being on the phone is already a bad idea for real drivers, don’t distract the toddler who apparently is out driving alone without even an adult to supervise him!
    Amazing!
    And this 14 year old boy is the ”guardian” of his sisters? It’s really an insane place…

  14. jeeze, i don’t know how women can stand it over there. i mean if I was a woman over there, I would get fixed. seems the males can do anything they want and get by it. but a woman? guess they don’t have much option so far. I’d carry something under my burka …. LOL … (just kidding okay??? ). seriously though, I wouldn’t want to be alive there. it is so sad to see how they are treated over there.

    wonder why human rights organizations and amnesty internationals don’t take it as an active cause and put in a plug for women driving in ksa? must be oil politics for sure.

    any woman who would submit to this slave treatment must be suffering from the ”hostage syndrome”. these arrogant men are bullies. apparently slavery is alive and well in the muslim world today. it is just hidden behind the veil and the burkas of muslim women. disgusting. simply disgusting.

    seems like many of these muslim men are mostly all pigs who want more than one sow to wallow with in their sty and self-pity. i say more power to their women. perhaps they can enlighten these stupid clueless boars who believe they are so damn superior because they believe in some idiotic false insane religion and that anyone who doesn’t agree with them should be killed.

    but then i also wonder that if and when women are allowed to drive one day, there may be honor killings in that sick society for not being able to parallel park or maybe showing a lil’ ankle on the way in and out of the car! or honor killed for the suspicion that women in black are driving themselves to the underground whorehouses to sell themselves for money. :)- pathetic. that’s what comes to my mind.

    blessings ….

  15. No, if women are allowed to drive everybody in SA will become homosexual and there will be no virgins left.
    Which is impossible, if all men become gay and all women lesbian technically everybody would remain virgin. But logic is never a strong quality of the religious.

    There are a lot more excellent reasons why women should not be allowed to drive, I made this video in support of Manal Al Sharif:

  16. Wow, that was a moving video. We barely trust teens to drive in America because scientific evidence shows that the risk-taking part of their brain has not finished formulating. Teens can’t adequately gauge the risks they are taking. With the new danger of texting, it’s just become more scary. No matter how educated and careful a family would be they can’t avoid the careless on the road. I sure would hate to be the Mom of a 12-year-old son who kills someone and he has to live with that forever.

  17. It should have been added that the elderly men and women also allow their underaged children and grandchildren to drive them around, not just women in general.

    Funny thing is, those underaged drivers are far less responsible for road accidents than their older counterparts. Lol!

  18. Wow, Aafke! That is a great infomercial that you made.

    I just wanna add that this child driving business in saudi is just one of many more examples of the idiocy of Islam. This is not a religion of peace or of equal justice. Their entire belief system is designed to keep others in some sort of submission and slavery. Everyone who does not fully understand Islam should do some serious research. There are no moderate Muslims, just a few liberal ones that live in western free societies.

    In Islam, the supreme goal … whether moderate or devout … is to establish a caliphate, and bring about death of all those who do not convert to Islam. This is a religion of despair, darkness and death. Our tolerance of this so-called religion of peace will one day be our downfall. For all of those who disagree, and would call me a bigot and an islamophobe, I would ask that you do some seriously serious research of Islamic history. It has not changed much last 1400 yrs..

    In every part of the world that Islam has conquered, you will find a trail of tears. Yes, many many trails of tears!

    Sorry if I came across as disrespectful of Islam or Saudi Arabia. What can I say except that I am not known to be politically correct …

  19. Kareem:

    That is because they are under the watchful eye of the mother and grandparents. By the time they are teenagers they fully understand that they have more rights than women, have a teenage god syndome along with the male god sydrome and an undeveloped brain.

    In other words, your worst nightmare and you unleash it on the masses with a weapon of much destruction thus Saudi Arabia has one of the highest traffic mortality rates in the worlds.

    Need I say more.

  20. I never gave Islam a lot of thought before 9/11 but I have been researching it a lot since then. I have come to the conclusion that Islam isn’t even a religion. It is and always has been a political movement and calling itself a religion was the easiest way to box that evil BS.

    I remember once watching the turkish prime minister of the ever more Islamic leaning Turkey, on Meet The Press, who said: “There is no such thing as moderate Islam. Islam is just Islam.” An honest statement, indeed!

    I am personally getting kind of tired of people trying to tell me Islam is a religion of peace. How blind can people be? Just read the papers and watch the TV and the many comments here on Carol’s forum. Then look at the things they do, not the things they say.

    Sheeessssssh. Wise up people! Sharia is creeping and dripping slowly but surely in our free western democracies also!

  21. If the govt doesn’t want woment to drive ( and inspite of everyone and everyone’s brother fighting for and arguing about women’s right to drive ) then they should be providing some kind of car/driver subsidy type deal for those households who don’t have the financial capacity of hire a driver or male guardians who are not children.

    If women were permitted to drive i don’t think many mothers would put their child at risk. no parents wants to see their child hurt. and when we were there my husband was in a horrific accident , he was in a car with a driver who drove very safely and was in a crash with a car driven by a 13 yr old. the child was injured although not seriously and even though he was at fault i felt bad for him and anger at his father for putting a weapon in a childs hand , imagine the guilt the child will carry if something fatal had happened to my husband and the poor child was going to get his sister medicines the dad was out of contact and the mom was a woman who didn’t have permission. ( who BTW could drive very well – apparently she learnt in some dessert – not sure if it was true)
    such grave injustice to a child, a mother and such great risk to otehrs onthe road.

  22. We allow 15 year olds to drive here in the states…legally. Not much older than the 13 year olds mentioned on this post. However, road safety is stressed much more here in the states than in the Arab world, Period. Driving over there is little more than a free for all for the most part…and I do not believe I am exaggerating in the least. There is no courtesy, no manners, no regard for traffic cops or laws…speed limits are routinely ignored…by very very large margins, child safety in cars is nearly nonexistent. All of this creates road carnage that cannot be compared to anywhere else in the world.

    The interesting thing is that women are routinely blamed for bad driving (being bad drivers) and yet the deaths attributed to road accidents in Saudi is the highest in the world…all achieved without a single woman driver (lets ignore the recent brave attempts by a few hardy women). Makes one think who the bad drivers really are?

  23. The Saudi desire for simplistic morality allows them to ignore the consequences of actions. So, in order to protect some tribal idea of morality, they stop adult women from driving and allow young boys to be the family chaufeur. Morality isn’t a simple as reading lines from ancient texts.

  24. In the US anyway statistics show that women are safer drivers. Here is just one link http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=788126

  25. Honest abe: You are an idiot, plan and simple.

    What does reckless driving and putting children behind the wheel have to do with Islam or any other religion for that matter?

    What this boils down to is human incompotence. How about other Muslim countries that do follow traffic laws, practice proper road safety, and allow women to drive? Does that have something to do with Islam as well or is it that you make certain actions the product of Islam only when it’s convenient for you?

  26. kareem, on July 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm said: whatever …..

    plan = plain

    incompotence = incompetence

    madrassa “education” shows :)-

  27. Coolred38

    Are you sure children as young as 15 are allowed to drive legally in united state? This is really surprising if accurate!

    Aafke

    I share you the wonder why Saudi Parents are careless about safty.
    Check this article from the Blue Abaya blog.
    http://blueabaya.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/children-are-treasures-not-airbags.html

  28. Drivers licensing laws in the 50 states and the District of Columbia

    The minimum age to obtain a full (unrestricted) driver’s license in the United States varies from 14 years, three months in South Dakota to as high as 17 in New Jersey. In most states, with the exception of South Dakota, a graduated licensing law applies to newly licensed teenage drivers, going by names such as “Provisional Driver”, “Junior Operator”, “Probationary Driver” or “Intermediate License.” These licenses restrict certain driving privileges, normally whether the new driver may carry passengers and if so how many, as well as setting a curfew for young drivers to be off the roads.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver's_license_in_the_United_States

  29. Honest Abe, on July 17, 2012 at 12:23 am said:
    kareem, on July 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm said: whatever …..
    plan = plain
    incompotence = incompetence
    madrassa “education” shows

    Mocking spelling mistakes of a non native English speaker is always a cheap shot, usually carried out when one is out of real substance to talk.

  30. Snowman:

    Yes they are allowed to drive however, most are required to have a license driver with them at all times.

    Let’s put it this way. Insurance on a teenager is exceptionally expensive and any citation received will increase that expense drastically. At this point the parent will often times release the child of all privileges until such time as said child has exhibited behavior that is consistent with not getting a traffic citiation.

    Now should the child not have insurance when ticket he could have his license revoked or suspended until the age of 18 or 21 depending on the jurisdiction or judge’s discretion. Most teens do not want this as this is there ticket to getting some freedom from their parents. Now the traffic laws in the US are known as strict liablitiy which means you don’t have to mean to break the law only that you did either by accident, carelessness, or purpose. In any case you can get jail time for traffic violations depending on the severity of the violation. Such items are reckless driving, careless driving, excessive speed, no liability insurance, revoke/suspended driver’s license, traffic accident resulting in bodily injury or death. In addition, states have point systems that if you are caught in traffice violations that total a certain pointage per year you will lose your license. If you are caught driving on a suspended driving licenses you could lose your driver’s for an additional timeframe that generally is 1 year for each violation. There are some people who can’t technically drive for 20 years or more. Driving while intoxicated depending on the state can result in felony charges resulting in a lose of driver licenses, a court order intoxilier inside the vehicle and jail time.

    All of this can be applied to a teenager. Now once a kid leaves the house he/she is often times responsible for insurance which can be extremely expensive so it is in their best interest to not get a driver’s license.

    Police in the US are specifically trained in traffic and there are specialized units for traffic alone which do nothing but traffic so it is often times best to be very careful on the streets for numerous reasons. In addition, people are encouraged to call in to the police with license numbers and direction of offensive drivers. Some will try to follow them at a distance and in a safe manner until they see an officer then let the dispatch know the officer is in the location of the driver.

    Hope this helps on the type of culture that the USA has on traffic. Understand that most citizens will not put up with reckless driving and will call in to have them stopped.

    In addition, prior to teens getting a driver’s license they must go through driving school and pass a driving test as well.

  31. Kareem:

    I have typing issues as well. I generally dont edit or proof read as I can be up and down a lot due to kids or other issues. So I get it.

  32. Rosy, your statement about Islam not being a religion shows your idiotic nature. As for your rant about oh why are people so blind, Islam isn’t peaceful so on so forth, I say this generally stems out from general ignorance of Islam and the tendency to view the violent behavior of groups or individuals with nominal ties to Islam as representative of Islam. I am Muslim, live breathe and think Islam, that makes me a terrorist right? awww BEWARE we coming for you Rosy, with Sharia in hand!

  33. Kareem,

    So calling me “You are an idiot, plan and simple” is not a cheap shot??? Also, carried out by YOU, when you ran out of real substance to talk??? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander???

  34. Bigstick1, when i read your comment I thoght Saudi should follow amrica’s example, by reducing the minimum age and taking preventive measures. However, The US seems to have serious problem in teenager driving and killing themselves and others. with all these measures you mentioned earlier, still “”Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the country.” country= united states

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/17/proposed-federal-law-brakes-state-age-limits-teen-drivers/#ixzz20qGJCuuB

    I should thank coolered83 for opening our eyes to this issue, because comparison is good thing.

  35. snowman:

    Just so you know there is going to be something that is the number one killer of someone. Always happens. Teenagers don’t typically have health problems that cause them to die. So ask yourself if a group of teenagers die what do you think would be the number one reason?

    Do you see where I am going here.

  36. A capable, adult woman should be allowed to drive!

  37. Oh by the way, fox news is considered to be one of the worst sources of information.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/fox-news-viewers-less-informed-people-fairleigh-dickinson_n_1106305.html

    It is well known that fox news typically gets alot wrong or creates mountains out of mole hills.

  38. I just wanna add that this child driving business in saudi is just one of many more examples of the idiocy of Islam…Idiot is mild, still.

    I drive, have been since i turned 17, with license paid by my Islamic dad.

  39. Mrs. B:

    Are you sure. I mean after all you keep posting that men are far more intelligent than women. :D

    I couldn’t resist. The make believe devil made me do it. :twisted:

  40. Honest Abe: The reason I said you are an idiot, is simply because you come across like one time and time again. Almost every word you type seems to be plagued by idiocy and hatefulness.

  41. bigstick, how could you???
    oohhh! Devil indeed!

    Nope never stated men are such and such!

  42. Mrs. B:

    It hard for me at times, I am always batting that make believe devil down but sometimes he gets the better of me. :twisted:

    You know I am enjoying this far toooo much. :D

  43. Honest Abe: Go ahead, mock my spelling mistakes. Though I’m not a native speaker, I don’t use spell correction because I believe that is weakens one’s ability to spell properly. Not to mention that I am typing from a smart phone that seems to become glitchy when typing on this site. But if it makes you feel better, by all means, go ahead and make fun of a few typing mistakes. ;)

  44. I’ll admit it….I’m probably among the minority of foreign women in Saudi Arabia who enjoyed being driven. It truly did not bother me not to drive. Yes; I enjoyed being dropped off and picked up at the door to where ever I was going. I sat in the back and read the paper or did something that I enjoyed.

    However, whenever my husband and I were out of the Kingdom, I was normally the driver – at his request and insistence! Even when enroute to Bahrain, as soon as we crossed through customs, he’d pull over on the Bahrain said, get out of the drivers seat and say “Okay…your turn now.” He grew up with many sisters and others who always depended on him to drive them that he loved the times when he could just sit back, relax and “enjoy the flight….err drive.”

  45. Oh ab. I also loved being driven around . Except for those days when the driver didn’t show up and I had somewhere to go and was stuck. Frustrated the heck out of me since I was perfectly capable of driving and instead thans to idiotic laws ad to sit at home and cool my heals or get a taxi

  46. Carol, but wasn’t one of the reasons you loved being driven around in Saudi is because it was the opposite of the culture we grew up with? To us Americans, being driven around represents luxury. To Saudi women, it represents lack of freedom. If some guy was telling you: you can’t do this, that, go here, go there, it would get old real fast. And it sounds like the system forces moms to put their children at risk for causing a loss of life. I think moms and dads who think about this risk would demand their children not be exposed to that.

  47. I sometimes pull over the young boys driving and attempt to scold them, now I have been told that such an action is prosecutable as ‘harassment of a minor’. The other issue is that women often times are being driven by their children as you point out, which further inhibits the role a good Samaritan (male) can play in deterring such careless activity (lest he be accused of harassing a female).

    The reason such a phenomena continues to exist is because relative to the rest of the driving environment, nearly no laws are enforced. Traffic signals, right of way, weight and size restrictions of vehicles and their loads, let alone registration and environmental inspection issues are completely ignored.

    In such circumstances, the only thing to do is let the authorities know and hope something changes.

  48. The problem is not what one likes. A lot of men like being driven around too. Fine.

    The problem is that those women who need to drive are not allowed to. if they do there is an enormous hullaballoo, men start chasing them like rabid dogs, call the religious police, they get arrested, they get punished, their families get punished…
    As if they committed a horrible crime.
    Ridiculous!
    If one would think it up for a silly movie people would think it too absurd and unrealistic.

    Meanwhile when there’s some male toddler behind the wheel of a deadly weapon nobody turns a hair. As long as who or whatever is behind the wheel has a penis one is allowed to drive.
    That’s the problem.

  49. Karen is right, If you have to be driven around because you are not allowed to drive it gets old real soon.
    Like the twelve year old boy who was really keen on cars. It got very old to him when he was put to work.

    So driving gets old for everybody when you do it every day.
    Until you are not allowed to drive all of a sudden and can’t get to work, to the doctor, do shopping, see friends… etc. That gets real old very fast.

    What women should have is the choice. If they are lazy and can afford a driver, fine, continue as you are. But for the majority of women, for whom driving is a life necessity, they should finally get their human rights to freedom of moevement.

    And that’s of course why. The Saudi men don’t want women to have freedom.

    Because while they may have a penis, it’s clear they have no balls.

  50. Thurman, so no traffic laws are being enforce, except the non-existant law that women can’t drive…
    Facepalm….

  51. By the time I settled in Saudi I had lived in multiple countries where having a driver was common. I did drive at times in those countries but preferred to be driven. Even today back in the USA I prefer being driven to driving. That’s my personal preference.

  52. Even if they allow women to drive here in Saudi Arabia, I prefer to be driven because the majority of the drivers here do not respect the traffic rules. they are very dangerous. it’s my personal preference for my own safety.

  53. Actually, I prefer to be driven too. I gave up my car four years ago because I believe we each much take individual action to prevent global warming. I only use public transit now and it is much more relaxing. Whenever, I get in a car now, I notice the stress of the driver. However, as a Western woman, I make that choice myself of whether or not to drive. Saudi women don’t have that luxury. Freedom! Can’t live without out.

  54. In my honest opinion, the issue of women not being able to drive (which has nothing to do with the teacings of Islam by the way) isn’t such as big of an issue as all of the traffic laws that are being broken day in and out.

    The majority of people in this country, Saudi and foreigners alike, just can’t seem to understand that driving with a child in your lap while sitting behind the wheel or even the passager seat is a dangerous pratice.

    So before anymore negligent drivers are put on the road, teach them proper driving rules and enforce them. Otherwise, the problem of traffic accidents and deaths as a result will only increase. And THAT, is the biggest issue.

  55. naseema,

    I just loved your website. Well done!

    Although I can’t speak French fluently, I can read and understand it adequately. Yup, high school/college french taking comes in handy at times :)-

  56. oh! thank you Rosemary, I am glad you love it.
    It is “a” two hand’s blog, both of us my husband and I.

    I have the same problem with english my third language at school. I understand when I read, but writing and listening is still difficult for me. I am trying to improve myself little by little.

  57. Nassima…I would venture a guess that being a passenger in a car driven by somebody else in no way assures your safety any more than if you were driving yourself.

  58. @Kareem,
    Since that is the way you feel- why don’t you give up driving until it’s safe? Lead by example and all. I hope you won’t be waiting for decades.

    Men have continuous reasons for why driving should be delayed for women. I only respect opinions from those that give up their driving to see what it’s like. They are the only ones who have a clue about the situation the women are in. So far no one’s taken me up on the offer. They also all have an excuse why they need to drive. And I understand that- but then please don’t go around advocating women wait- when you aren’t willing to.

  59. Sandy,

    I remember writing a post during 2009 about my husband. This was when he was a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and not only prevented from driving, but due to a port in his chest, had to ride in the back seat because he could not wear the seat belt across his chest.

    At one point we arrived at our destination and I had not unlocked the doors before he attempted to open his. He quoted “Now I know what it feels like to be a Saudi woman who must be chauffeured around in the back seat of a car.”

    He found it limited his ability to gain familiarization of the area; the back seat was not his preferred seat to sit; and he had to wait on me to park and get the doors unlocked.

    Forgive me that I am being lazy and not searching the blog to bring up the actual post.

  60. Sandy,

    I felt guilty not including the link so I searched for it and found it….

    here is is: http://americanbedu.com/2009/06/28/feeling-like-a-saudi-woman%E2%80%A6/

    On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 6:40 PM, Carol Fleming wrote:

    > Sandy, > > I remember writing a post during 2009 about my husband. This was when he > was a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and not only > prevented from driving, but due to a port in his chest, had to ride in the > back seat because he could not wear the seat belt across his chest. > > At one point we arrived at our destination and I had not unlocked the > doors before he attempted to open his. He quoted “Now I know what it feels > like to be a Saudi woman who must be chauffeured around in the back seat of > a car.” > > He found it limited his ability to gain familiarization of the area; the > back seat was not his preferred seat to sit; and he had to wait on me to > park and get the doors unlocked. > > Forgive me that I am being lazy and not searching the blog to bring up the > actual post. > >

  61. @colored36,
    It is necessary to choose an experienced driver who is used with the saudi driving.

  62. Sandy:

    You assume that I drive, and we know what they say about assumptions, right?

    I don’t drive because I get nervouse driving in this country. Also, I just wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from knocking traffic offenders out. So it’s better for those guys that I continue not to drive here.

    I mostly walk where ever I can and use a driver when it’s too hot or too far to do so.

  63. Nassima, that would make it logical to choose a Saudi chauffeur, not a foreigner. Then why don’t all Saudi women have Saudi drivers?

  64. Do Saudi authorities explicitly say that not allowing women to drive is Qu’ran based?

  65. No; not allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia is a Saudi law.

  66. But I thought there were no written laws in Saudi Arabia? And the king said it was ok for women to drive, didn’t he?
    It’s just that many men and the clergy don’t want women to have any freedom or rights.
    And didn’t it start out with Bin baz inventing a fatwa that women shouldn’t be allowed to drive?
    It’s really too stupid for words.

  67. I think it is based on one thing…Saudi men fearing that their women might be better at something than them. They prevent women from excelling in so many areas with all these discriminating laws…what else could it be?

  68. Yes, it’s probably fear. It seems that most of the restrictions placed on women have their origin in Arab men’s fear of women. And they must be really incompetent weaklings to be so very afraid of women.

  69. It’s either fear or they are just being over protective. Both which are bad. Men here are also very paranoid. They believe that someone is always out to get their women. Lol!

  70. Kareem:

    So, apparently you have a few issues with Saudi. Do you intend to stay there or are you coming back to the not so fearful world where you must hide females who are awrah (Saudi/Islamic female is equated to a walking external sex organ).

  71. @Kareem
    You are right- I did assume you drive and I was wrong. You are however, given the right to make that choice- and unlike most Saudi women can afford a driver. That is all very nice for you.

    @Nassima
    I’m not sure how women as passengers are any more “safe” than if they were driving themselves. If you are a poor driver perhaps that is true. But generally women are safer drivers than men.

  72. I agree, Sandy, but I am overemotionel when I drive. And that would be worse here. luckily, I have a good driver(chauffeur) who I rely ( trust?). Naturally the risk of having an accident in Saudi Arabia is more important than Europe for example.

  73. Okay…
    1. There is NO LAW in Saudi Arabia that either legalizes or ill- legalizes women driving.
    2. Islam itself is NOT against women driving.
    3. If you have the connection or the money, you can easily get your licenses (males only) regardless of age.
    4. A large number of women do not have the luxury or having a personal driver. I myself am one of those people.

    Just the other day, my father (whom is recovering from heart condition that almost killed him, who is also going through hard financial times due to the length of his recovery) took myself and my mother grocery shopping. The supermarket was closing due to prayer so we were not able to finish shopping. On the ride home, my sister whom my dad picked up from work mentioned to him that the following day he will have to drop me and my mother to the supermarket again because we haven’t finished shopping. My replies with “Not my business, I’m not a driver” he was obviously annoyed with carrying the driver duties for 3 adult females. I responded with “give me the car keys tomorrow and I’ll drive, just write a paper stating that you approve in case the authorities pull me over”…My dad laughed and replied “NO WAY! if you get pulled over they will contact me and make me go down to the station to do an investigation and then make sign a paper stating that I will not repeat my offense again and then people are going to talk badly”
    Bottom line. that is just one of many situations I as a female face everyday because I do not have the freedom of transportation.

    I am a female, I am not allowed to drive even though there are NO religious reasons for me NOT to drive and to add salt to the wound, there is NO law against women driving. and even though women do have the ability to walk, It’s not easy with no pedestrian crossways and UN-walkable sidewalks and crazy drivers who don’t care if they hit pedestrians or not. Plus, it’s even hotter for women to walk due to the hijab (even if all she wears is a abaya and does not cover hear head which is also only possible in the city of Jeddah). Oh and did I forget to mention the harassment women receive constantly??

    VERY IMPORTANT!! Women are allowed to be in a car with a driver (total stranger, could be indian, pakistani or yemeni) and the police do NOT consider that to be “khulwa ghair shareeya”. However, women are NOT allowed to be in a car with a man they KNOW or are friends with whom is NOT a mahram and that in the eyes of the law IS considered “khulwa ghair shareeya”.

    P.S. None of this has anything to do with ISLAM or it’s teachings. I mean we’re talking about a country that had to enlist the help of “FORD” to teach the people whom were appointed in positions in the government when the country was first established how to “RUN a country and management skills”…!!! Also, up until recently 70% of the population was illiterate. The government had to PAY females to go to school and receive an education (that was the government’s way educating women and ushering the no mads and tribal people into the big cities and the 19th century).

  74. thank you Jade or this very interesting comment.

  75. Yes, there is a law. One of the ministers made it clear women cannot drive in the wake of the Manal Sharif incident. Much of law in Saudi is uncodified- so his support of the judges convictiion of women who have been caught driving counts. In addition- you must have a SAUDI license to drive in the Kingdom if you have resided there for 6 months or more. I believe only one woman has ever been issued one.

  76. Dear Nassima,
    You are very much welcome. I noticed my comment sounded like a rant and I apologize for that. It’s just too frustrating sometimes. It’s hurtful when you’re own country doesn’t recognize your rights as a citizen.

    Dear Sandy,
    Sadly, as I have stated before. There is no LAW against women driving other than the fact that they get pulled over because:
    1. society does not accept women driving.
    2. women do not have driving licenses.

    For example: If a women who has the permission of her guardian to drive AND has a valid driving license from a country abroad and/or an international driving permit. The law can not charge her driving, they will however charge her for inciting women to do something that goes against the society’s norms.
    If a women who has the permission of her guardian to drive yet does not own any valid license then the guardian will be charged with allowing a non licensed “person” to drive.
    The worst is if the female does not have her guardian’s consent to drive, since the LAW backs up the guardians in most matters in which the FEMALE has gone against the guardians wishes and without their consent. why? because by LAW females do not have the freedom to disobey their guardians in matter in which the LAW has granted the guardians right over the female.
    By LAW: females do not have the freedom to travel without guardian consent, nor do they have the freedom to accept a job or go to school without the guardians written and signed consent. Guardians also may deny a female’s wishes to marry someone but they can NOT force a female to marry against her wishes (except of course if they black male that female and threaten to turn her life into a living hell which sadly many people do).
    I am emphasizing the word “LAW” because these rules are contradictory to those of ISLAM.

    I am half american, half saudi. My father being the saudi (born and raised in makkah). I’ve lived all but 3 years of my life in Saudi Arabia. I am fully aware of my limitations and freedom restrictions. Even though english is my mother language. I studied all my years in various arabic saudi schools (from private to government to Quran memorization schools and no I am not referring to the night schools).

    F.Y.I. No mad women and farmer’s daughters who do not reside in a city DO exercise their right to drive all the time, they even drive into the cities from time to time and no law enforcement is allowed to disturb them because they are driving because of necessity. Yet, women who live in the cities are NOT allowed to drive and most consider it a luxury NOT a necessity for women of the cities to drive.
    Oh and NO women has ever been issued a license in this country. Not even to princesses whom by the way also drive but because they are royalty they can NOT be touched. (I’ve seen that with my own eyes).

  77. Must Watch! this episodes explains the hardships and contradictions is the laws of women driving and islam.

  78. Love it! Especially the end! I will have somebody translate it for me so I can do even more ROTFLs!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  79. Thanks Jade! That was great. It reminded me of when I was little, my mom rode her horse into town because she didn’t have a car that day. She went to the fabric store for a few items for her project, then stopped at the grocery store for milk on the way home. This was a town of about 10,000 in Minnesota. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Hopefully that right will come soon to Saudi.

  80. Dear Aafke-Art,
    It recently aired so I couldn’t find a translated version but if you do translate it please let me know so my non arabic-speaking friends can view it as well.

    Dear Kristine,
    Nice story christine, your mom’s very resourceful :)

  81. Sorry to disagree. There is a law about having a Saudi license. You don’t have to believe me. Also, there was one woman who was issued a license long ago. I believe she was German.

    In addition, many laws here are uncodified or only partially codified. When jurists say something is illegal and it is backed up by a minister- it is the law. And that is how many laws are.

  82. Interesting information Sandy.
    Inefficient, unfair, biased and rambling way to run a justice system, and of course really a stupid obsession to not let women drive.

  83. I understand all these men do not relish playing chauffeur for ”their” women all the time but I think that’s no excuse.
    It’s the law remember? women can’t drive and that means that all men are drivers for women and they can’t complain about it. If they have a problem with standing at the ready whenever a woman needs to go somewhere, or just wants to go somewhere on a whim, they have to drive, wait, and drive the women back.

    If there are men who really do not like this then there is one simple way out: Stand up for women’s right to drive and change the law.

  84. Dear Sandy,
    I apologize for not explaining myself correctly. When I say there is no LAW preventing women to drive I mean that there is no written Law approved by the KING. The KING himself said that he wished women driving could happen but he declined to either make it legal or illegal and has left it up to the saudi community. You can find his speech on youtube.
    The fact that the government doesn’t even want to make it an official legal and binding law to forbid women driving or legalize it is an insult to women. That is what many of the campaigns for women to drive are trying to accomplish.
    As for the women who has been issued a license, I tried searching the web for anything to prove it and have found nothing which is why I doubt it.
    Here is something you should know, in order to get your license, you must go to (for example I’m using Jeddah) Della and take the written and driving exam. However, della is run mainly by the lowest forms and most close minded saudi’s. Men themselves hate going to della when issuing their license or renewing it because the men themselves get harassed if they don’t speak bedu arabic or dress in anyway “westernized” or they don’t look saudi enough, the employees are also very racist to white saudi’s (deeming them to be immigrants since they believe true saudi’s are wheat colored) black saudi’s and any foreigner who is not a white foreigner. The employees can be so rude as to issue a south african friend of mine named “francois” a saudi license translating his name into arabic as “fran-kuss”. If you don’t know what the word “kuss means” well it’s a a highly offensive slur for “pu**y”. Another male friend of mine simply needed his american license translated into a saudi one. However, the card he gave them to translate was his ID not his license and yet they were illiterate enough to think it was a license and issued him a saudi one based on it. Bottom line, I can’t imagine a female getting issued a saudi license or going to the saudi “DMV” when that is the state.

    I hope I clarified my objections. I am not forcing my opinions or views on to you. I am also NOT discrediting you. I simply do not agree for the aforementioned reasons.

    Have a nice day :)

  85. Dear Jade,
    No worries. No need to get into a detailed discussion on the way law works in Saudi- when essentially we’re in agreement. I found (I think) the link to the drivers license. It’s in Arabic- maybe you can confirm it. I’ve run accross it before I think it’s the one.

    Yes Della is a joke. My sons went through there to get their licenses.

    http://saudidream.net/citizen-sufferings/الحرية-لمنال-الشريف/

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