Feature

Saudi Arabia: When half the population can’t drive

The Saudi ban on women driving is both an injustice and an absurdity, said Laura Bashraheel in <em>Arab News.</em>

Laura BashraheelArab News

The Saudi ban on women driving is both an injustice and an absurdity, said Laura Bashraheel. The high demand for transportation has pushed costs way up. That’s no problem for the rich, but for the rest of us it can mean headaches and “humiliation.”

A few companies provide cars and drivers “to ferry their women employees for work purposes,” but most women are forced to pay for personal drivers or taxi services. The exorbitant fees eat up a significant chunk of a typical woman’s salary. For those women who don’t work but who need to get to university or just to shop or visit relatives, the cost of hiring a driver means they must ration their trips carefully or resort to begging relatives for the loan of a driver.

If Saudi Arabia had a bus system, many women say, they would use buses regularly. But the government has never bothered to set up bus stations or routes, even though Saudi Arabia is “the only country in the world where women aren’t allowed to drive.” If we continue to deny women the right to drive, the least we can do is create efficient public transportation.

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