It appears Saudi Arabia has finally decided to jump feet first into the 19th century and allow women to drive without male supervision. The issuance of the royal decree is credited to the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his progressive policies.
The late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had promised to give women the right to drive, but failed to follow through before his death in 2015. He did, however, grant women the right to vote in that year; the first time since the formation of the kingdom in 1932.
As ecstatic as Saudi women are at gaining yet another foothold on the climb to equality, the edict sparked controversy with a portion of the male population and established clerics who wish to keep women covered and dependent upon men. One such enlightened young man took to social media and stated, “I swear to Allah that every time I see a woman stuck in a car I will set her and her car on fire.”
Smooth move, genius. The authorities issued a come to Allah meeting with the disgruntled man:
“Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of the Interior and the kingdom’s eastern police district announced that the young man had been arrested and handed over for prosecution so that the appropriate steps could be taken against him in light of his threat.
The young man, who was released after initial questioning, later released a video saying his threat was not serious.”
Good save, Sonny boy.
The clerics, however, will not be as easily curtailed. It was their idea in the first place to keep women as property, and they refuse to concede the loss. One such cleric claimed women driving would cause damage to their ovaries and bring about promiscuity. Another had this to say: “Women should not be allowed to drive because their brains shrink to a quarter the size of a man’s when they go shopping.”
The latter forfeited his ability to preach his brand of cronyism in the kingdom.
Yes, it’s a tough row to hoe when you have been punch-drunk by power over 50% of the population for eighty-plus years. But the clerics will adapt to the new policies of the kingdom, or leave. It’s good to be the king.
In today’s Saudi Arabia, women have few rights:
“Adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel, marry, or exit prison. They may be required to provide guardian consent in order to work or access healthcare. Women regularly face difficulty conducting a range of transactions without a male relative, from renting an apartment to filing legal claims.”
But a social movement to bring Saudi to the 21st century is afoot. Mohammed bin Salman has a long-range progressive strategy for the Saudi people – including women. With the help of an advisory group of both genders, he has carved out an aggressive economic and societal reform plan, which he calls Vision 2030. The kingdom may be easing into equality in hopes of taking a seat at the table of global power poker. The stakes are high; the pay-out, priceless.