Saudi women heading to Bahrain for driving license
Though Saudi women are not allowed to drive in the kingdom, they are trying hard to find alternate means.
January 7, 2009 12:33 by Aarti Nagraj
Hundreds of Saudi women apply for Bahraini driving licenses and drive legally in Bahrain, even as they are banned from driving in their own country, reports Arab News.
“The Traffic Directorate last year issued about 1,354 licenses to Saudi women who underwent driving lessons and passed the test,” Khalifa bin Hassan from Bahrain’s Traffic Directorate told the paper. There are no special procedures or paperwork for Saudi women applying for licenses. “The laws are the same for all GCC citizens,” he added.
Mariam Hamad, a university student, told Arab News, “I have several Saudi friends who have Bahraini driving licenses […] Renting a car is the best option for Saudi women, who also drive with the Bahraini license in European countries when they are on vacation with their families.”
Women in Saudi Arabia have been fighting for several years for the right to drive. In March last year, on International Women’s Day, a Saudi woman, Wajeha Al-Huwaider put up a video of herself driving in a remote area of the country. She was appealing to the authorities to lift the ban, and so far more than 160,000 people have viewed the video on YouTube.
A group of activists also launched a petition in 2007 demanding the right to drive, and collected about 1,100 signatures. The petition was sent to King Abdullah on Saudi National Day.
In 2005, a member of the Consultative Council said that there was nothing under Islamic law or the constitution that justified the ban, and that the Council should discuss ways to lift it. But the interior minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, dismissed the view. “These matters are decided according to the general good and what is dictated by women’s honor, but I urge everybody to put a stop to this and not make an issue out of it that pits one group against another,” he told the official Saudi Press Agency.