Women riding buggies Image Credit: Al Yawm

Manama: Saudi women have been allowed to ride buggies and bikes in public after the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice lifted a ban on them.

Under the new rules, women can use parks, esplanades and open desert areas and enjoy themselves as long as they are modestly dressed, sources from the Commission told local Arabic daily Al Youm.

A male relative should be present to ensure he can provide prompt assistance in case of falls or accidents, the source said.

Women wishing to ride the buggies or bikes should avoid places where there are assemblies of young people to protect themselves from physical or verbal harassment and possible theft, he said.

However, according to the source, the women should use the bikes and buggies only for recreational purposes and not as permanent means of transport.

The Commission said that it never barred foreign women from riding buggies or bicycles.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive.

A traffic official told the daily that they were not involved in the decision to allow women to ride bicycles or buggies or any other means of transport.

“Our concern is the positive traffic culture and full compliance with traffic rules and regulations by all drivers and riders,” Ali Al Zahrani, the spokesman for the Eastern Province Traffic, said.

However, Samia Al Bawardi, the head of an NGO for the victims of car accidents, warned women about riding bicycles and buggies.

“Wearing abayas — the coverall worn by Gulf women — and erratic driving could result in terrible accidents,” she said, quoted by the daily.