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Manama: A Saudi woman who has been driving clandestinely for 40 years welcomed the decision to allow women to drive in the kingdom, saying it would greatly help them.

Amsa Bint Hadhel said in the four decades she had been driving in Al Baha, in south-western Saudi Arabia, she never had any problems, was never harassed, and was never arrested or booked by traffic police.


“I learnt to drive out of necessity, and not because I was idle or had ample time to spend or wanted to show off,” she said in remarks published by Saudi daily Okaz on Saturday.

“As a young woman, I used to go with my uncle whenever he drove into town. I watched carefully how he drove, and I learnt how to drive and fix a vehicle.”

When Amsa grew up, she had to take care of her sick mother who needed regular medical treatment.

“We needed to transport her regularly to the public hospital, and I was the only one available as my father was no more. When I got married, one of my conditions was that I be allowed to drive without any problems. My husband had to move to Riyadh, where he worked, and I stayed back home with my mother, and I had to drive her to hospital.”

Amsa said she was very careful not to get into trouble as her mother needed her.

“I had no problem with the family and my community as they understood the need for me to drive. For avoiding the traffic police, I used dirt roads to take my mother to the hospital. It was tough job but I did it as I wanted to look after my mother.”

Amsa said she was looking forward to June 2018, when women will be officially allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

“I pray for King Salman [Bin Abdul Aziz] because his decision will ease the situation for so many women. Unfortunately, most people are not really aware of how they [women] have been suffering,” she said.