Manama: Saudi women took to Twitter to air their grievance following the announcement that obtaining Saudi driving licences would cost them at least SR2,520.
The fees could go up to SR5,000 for women without any experience, some users added.
Men who take driving lessons pay SR450 for five days or SR560 for 15 days.
The women insisted that imposing such high fees compared with what men pay for their licences amounted to blatant business abuses by driving schools charging them exorbitant amounts of money.
“This is blatant abuse since there are many women planning to take lessons to obtain the Saudi driving licence, but the number of schools is limited,” Ruwa said. “There were promises that the driving lessons would not be expensive and that obtaining the licence would not be onerous.”
Maha Abdul Aziz said she wanted fairness between men and women.
“The fees are shockingly high and they should be reviewed. We were looking forward to doing away with drivers, and driving our own cars,” she posted.
Another user, Sarah, said she would wait for another month at least to take her lessons.
“There is an obvious exploitation ... There are so many women seeking to drive, but few instructors,” she said. “However, we know the situation will change for the better later when more schools open and there are more opportunities for learners. I will wait.”
Didi said a better option for her was to travel abroad to enjoy herself and get the licence.
“With this amount of money, I can go abroad, have a great time and learn from excellent instructors,” she said.
Salma supported her proposal and suggested Bahrain as the destination.
“You can travel to Bahrain, spend five days there, have a great time and come home with a driving licence that will not cost you a quarter of the money you would pay here,” she said.
Several users said the state should “step in and rein in the blatant abuse”.
“We were overjoyed when we heard about the right of women in Saudi Arabia to drive,” Hana posted. “But when we heard about the fees that women have to pay, we were shocked. We call on the state to address the situation and ensure an end to the business exploitation.”
Saud referred to the royal order by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz to plead for fairness.
“The royal order was clear about issuing driving licences to men and women equally. How can the driving fees not be equal? There has to be compliance with the order,” he said.
On September 26, King Salman issued an order to allow women to drive for the first time in the country’s history starting June 24.
The nine-month period was to be used to prepare the logistics, including driving schools and training courses, to ensure a smooth application of the breakthrough reform.
In April 2013, Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal tweeted that allowing women to drive would result in saving at least 500,000 jobs held by foreign drivers and subsequent economic and social benefits for the nation.
No legal text bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia and the issue was related mainly to social traditions. The women who had been briefly held for driving were sanctioned for driving without a valid Saudi licence.