Women Cannot Drive in Saudi – handy conveniences

February 2, 2007 – Friday

Women Cannot Drive – Handy conveniences
Current mood:
Travel and Places

If you are not already aware, it is against the law for women to drive in Saudi Arabia.  As a result, many entities have made concessions. For example, the majority of all restaurants, fast food places, grocery stores and business will deliver products and services.  Yes; McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King (among many many others) will deliver right to your door.  This is very convenient and I’m not sure if it is more appreciated by the women who cannot drive or the young children who are very adept at ordering their favorite burgers, etc.  The grocery stores will deliver which is convenient but at the same time, one then has to rely on the store to make ones selections.  In fact, there is a vegetable/fruit market not too far from where we live and they also deliver.  Since this is a small shop it is easy to build a relationship and become personally known.  As a result, this facilitates one in receiving prime products as the shop does not wish to lose regular valued customers.Employers are usually accommodating for their female staff in that they will either provide a driver or a transportation allowance.  I have found when I have had business appointments all entities have been very helpful in sending a car or giving me transport info.The issue of whether women will eventually drive or not has been a topic of discussion for years.  During the 1991 Gulf War (Desert Storm), Saudi women took to the streets as a sign of protest against the non-driving ban.  However the only accomplishment of their efforts is that most of the women had their passports revoked for a period of time and some of them also had their businesses shut down.  The time was just not ready for such aggressive actions.  Most recently a Princess from the Royal family has spoken out that women should be able to drive in the Kingdom.  However she and others from the Royal family (to include the Foreign Minister) have made such statements but at this time that is all they are…simply expressing a view without a proposed action plan.Women in the Kingdom (as well as men) are divided on the issue of whether women should be able to drive.  The driving in Saudi is already very erractic and aggressive.  And yes, some women will drive in remote areas or in the desert where it is easier to go undetected.  There have been instances of women taking a calculated risk and driving in more populated areas such as Riyadh or Jeddah if a husband or son is ill or incapacitated and it is an emergency situation.For the time being, while I have not missed driving per se, I have missed the independence of being able to get up and go when and as I wished.  I enjoy being driven by a competent driver and use the time to multi-task such as read the paper or catch up on calls while being driven. It is anyones call on whether women will ultimately be able to drive in the Kingdom.  The word I hear from majority of Saudis with whom I have spoken is they believe ultimately women will drive but that such an occurence is no less than 8-10 years away.

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