Manama: A Saudi man was fined SR900 for letting his sister drive the family car.
The woman, 23, was arrested by a police patrol in Al Qateef, in the Eastern Province, for driving, even though her brother, 17, was riding with her.
The traffic police impounded the car for seven days, asked the young woman, who works at a local hotel, to sign a pledge not to “repeat the violation” and booked her for breaking the rules by driving without a driving licence, Saudi daily Al Sharq reported.
The case will be reviewed by an interior ministry agency.
Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia even though there is no legal text that bans the practice.
Attempts to change the situation and lift the restrictions have been fiercely resisted by conservatives who saw in it a source of immense social and moral problems.
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 for women to apply for driving licences in Saudi Arabia.
In December, Dr Thurayyah Al Aredh, writing for the Saudi Gazette, defended the right of women to drive, arguing 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 do away with the millions of the foreign drivers in our country. Let 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 we will sleep in peace and security,” she wrote.