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Police stop Saudi woman driving family car

Man asked wife to drive after feeling ill, but affirms respect for local traditions

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:44 January 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: A Saudi woman was questioned by the police for driving a car near the city of Madinah in western Saudi Arabia.

The police set up a check-point after they received a report that a woman was seen driving on the Hijra Highway on Monday afternoon, local Arabic daily Al Madina reported on Tuesday.

However, the police learnt that the woman’s husband was sitting with her and that she took the wheel after he complained of uneasiness and the situation required her to drive the car.

The husband, an engineer in a local company, was taken to a clinic for treatment. He however pledged not to allow his wife to drive again, in line with local traditions.

The case was the first such to be recorded in the Madinah area, the daily said.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and women activists have been pushing for a decision that will lift the restriction.

In November last year, Nassima Al Sadah became the third Saudi woman, after Manal Al Sharif and Samar Badawi, to file a lawsuit over the ban on women from obtaining driving licences in Saudi Arabia.

In December, Dr Thurayyah Al Aredh, writing for the Saudi Gazette, held the view that Saudi women would be “a lot safer” driving themselves.

Dr Thurayyah said that, although she held a driving licence that she acquired while she was a university student abroad, she was unable to drive in her own country.

“I have not been able to use this driving licence since I returned home,” she wrote. “Three decades have passed with me waiting hopelessly for the Interior Ministry to reach a decision allowing women to drive. Such a decision will rid us of the need to employ foreign drivers and live under their mercy. Women driving cars is not a fashion trend or an ostentatious phenomenon, but a real and pressing need.”

Dr Thurayyah said that “importing of drivers has become more perilous than the recruitment of housemaids.”

“As soon as the drivers know our streets, they will not fail to find those who will give them all kinds of criminal advice,” she wrote.

“Time has come to get rid of the millions of the foreign drivers in our country. Let the Saudi women drive and the problem will be solved forever. By driving our own cars, we will save a lot of resources for the economy. We will be a lot safer as well and will sleep in peace and security,” she wrote.

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