Friday, January 25, 2013

Are Women Better Drivers?

This entertaining opinion piece appeared in the Saudi English language daily, the Saudi Gazette. In this blogger's opinion, the appearance of articles like this is right on schedule, as women driving in Saudi Arabia gets closer to reality! A link to the story is here.

Abdullah Bajubair
Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper

Is there a difference between male and female drivers? According to numerous studies, there are differences in the way men and women drive but no sex is a better or worse driver.

Some studies say men are, by nature, more violent not only in the way they drive cars but in their general behavior. On adherence to traffic rules, a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom said traffic violations committed by men represented 53 percent of all accidents in Britain in 2012. The leading violation was speeding.

A separate study carried out in Germany noted that women tend to respect traffic rules while driving. The study said women are more rational when driving and they give more attention and respect to other drivers and traffic laws. The same study said men deliberately break traffic laws just to feel more self-confident.

Although most studies show that women are safer drivers, this does not mean that women are better or more skillful drivers.

Since the Stone Age, nature has taught man to be strong and violent while hunting. These qualities enabled him to survive and multiply. We can safely say that this trait has passed on to modern men who are now using their strength and violent nature on the road.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New York Times - Women Appointed to Saudi Council for First Time

The New York Times has a good story by Sarah Hamdan about the significance of the appointment of women to the Saudi Shura council - and one person interviewed says that soon women in Saudi Arabia may be driving. A link to the story is here,  and it's pasted in below.
DUBAI — For the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, women have been appointed to the Shura Council, the traditionally all-male body which drafts laws, debates major issues and provides advice to the king.

It may seem a modest step.

There are still no female ministers in the cabinet and women will remain segregated within the council, with their own seating area and a separate door.

The unelected council has only an advisory role: It proposes laws but the king wields sole legislative power.

Yet the chosen women, and some others, are calling the appointments a major advance.
“This enormous, rapid and noteworthy progress means Saudi society and its governing body are finally ready to acknowledge and respect women’s voices and their rights,” said Dr. Khawla

Al-Kuraya, a professor of pathology, and director at the King Fahad National Center for Children’s Cancer and Research.

Dr. Kuraya is one of the 30 women — drawn from the elite ranks of Saudi society and including two royal princesses — named by King Abdullah last week to join the 150-member council, which meets in the capital, Riyadh.

The king’s decree, which stipulated that from now on women should make up 20 percent of the council, came amid contradictory signals on women’s rights in the kingdom.
Women are still forbidden to drive and, since November, new electronic texting procedures have been introduced to tighten the compulsory monitoring by their male guardians of women traveling outside the kingdom.

Still, women’s advocates, including some men, are hopeful that the opening of the Shura Council could lead to other advances.

“This is a major move to introduce more reforms when it comes to gender equality throughout our daily lives,” said Khalid Al Khudair, founder of, a recruitment Web site for women in Saudi Arabia.

“Their presence as advisers to the king will move new laws in the right direction, with labor laws suited to allow women to work in new sectors and industries.”

“This could mean we will see women driving very soon,” Mr. Khudair added.

The change on the council follows several economic measures aimed at increasing female participation in the work force.

Since August last year, the Labor Ministry has progressively opened up jobs for women in the retail industry, notably by ordering the replacement of male assistants in stores selling lingerie, abayas and jewelry.

Mounira Jamjoom, a research specialist at the Booz consulting firm in Riyadh, said: “The decision to integrate women in the political process is timely, and by providing policy stability, the government can unleash the region’s considerable human promise — its increasingly educated and aspiring women.”

As recently as 2011 women were excluded from voting in municipal elections — the highest, if occasional, forum for democracy in a kingdom that has no elected national institutions. But the king has promised that they will be allowed to vote and run for office in the next municipals, planned for 2015.

“Saudi Arabia is the most conservative Gulf country when it comes to women’s rights, so the appointment of women to the Shura Council, while in the short term its impact is symbolic, in the long term its impact is significant,” said Najla Al Awadhi, a former member of the United Arab Emirates Parliament and one of the first female members of the legislature there.
“This step by the Saudi king begins to chip away at the institutional and psychological barriers in Saudi society that have historically been unaccepting of a woman’s role in public life where national issues are debated and shaped,” she added. “So the presence of Saudi women there is critical.”

Appointing women to the Shura Council also will create role models for younger women in a society where women have been expected to stay out of the limelight. “We are going to be partners in building our country and that is a phenomenal change from just 10 years ago,” said Muna AbuSulayman, a Saudi development consultant who was formerly a popular television talk show host and secretary general of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Kingdom Holding. “It is a great step in realizing that female rights are really human rights.”

Women will be able to join any of the committees of the council including economic, family and foreign affairs.

“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe that specific female-related issues are going to be the main focus of the women of the Shura,” said Dr. Kuraya. “Rather, as members we have the right to raise and address the diverse array of issues that concern Saudi society as a whole.”

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shura Council Adds 30 Women Members

Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, a consultative body appointed by the king, added 30 women to its membership. This is a historic move, and in this blogger's opinion, takes a logical step toward dealing with introducing women's driving in the Kingdom. This story is being widely reported in the press today, but the account below (link is here) from the Saudi US Relations Information Service actually includes the king's announcement. His words include an affirmation that women will not be marginalized, (citing the important role of women in the early years of Islam), and also warn those who disagree with integrating women better into public life.

At the bottom is the list of names of those who have been appointed to the Council. The women's names are highlighted in yellow. FYI, the names are listed, not in order of rank. They are listed alphabetically by first name, according to the Arabic alphabet. Number 147, is listed as "Mr." though she is a woman. Typo, maybe, but it may also be that the translator was not sure whether to put Mrs. or Ms. or what? Maybe some commenter can explain that.

It is quite probable that there are some women on this list who are against women driving; however at least now there are women in the official political process who can deal with women's issues.

So far the western press hasn't really caught on to what a huge deal this is. They report the event then use it as an excuse to once again decry women's rights in the Kingdom. This is why I'm including this report - since it focuses on the actual facts and the king's announcement.

Blogger's editorial - may this turn out to be a 'tipping point' in getting the women's driving issue resolved!  Congratulations to the nominees and all women in Saudi Arabia

January 11, 2013

Shura Council Adds 30 Women Members

Special Report Abdullah of Saudi Arabia delivered an address to the opening of the third year of the fifth term of the Saudi Consultative Council (Majlis Ash-Shura) in Riyadh on Sunday, September 25, 2011. In his address he expanded political reforms for women with the announcement that they will participate in the next round of elections — municipal council seats in 2015 — and could be appointed to the Consultative Council.  This is what he told the people of Saudi Arabia:
I am pleased to meet you at the opening of the third year of the fifth term of Majlis Al-Shura, praying to Allah Almighty to crown your works with success.

The struggle of the father of all people, the late King Abdul Aziz, with your grandfathers (Mercy be upon their souls), has resulted in the unity of hearts, land, and one destiny. Today, this destiny imposes on us to preserve this legacy, and not to stop here, but to develop it further in line with Islamic and moral values.

Yes, it is a responsibility towards our religion, and the interest of our country and its citizens that we should not stop at the hurdles of the current time; but we should strengthen our determination by patience and works with dependence on Allah to address them.

Balanced modernization in line with our Islamic values, which preserve rights, is an important requirement in an era with no room for the weak and undecided people.

All people know that Muslim women have had in the Islamic history, positions that cannot be marginalized, including correct opinions and advice since the era of Prophet Mohammed, as examples, we cite the advice of the Mother of Believers ‘Umm Salamah’ on ‘Al-Hudaybiyah’ Day, in addition to many examples during the era of the Prophet’s companions and followers until today.

‘Since we reject to marginalize the role of women in the Saudi society, in every field of works, according to the (Islamic) Sharia guidelines, and after consultations with many of our scholars, especially those in the senior scholars council, and others, who have expressed the preference for this orientation, and supported this trend, we have decided the following:

First, the participation of women in the Majlis Al-Shura as members from next session in accordance with the Shari’a guidelines.

Second, as of the next session, women will have the right to nominate themselves for membership of Municipal Councils, and also have the right to participate in the nomination of candidates with the Islamic guidelines.

You -my brothers and sisters- have rights that we strive to achieve all matters that are for your pride, your dignity and your interests. It is our right to seek your opinions and advices, according to Sharia guidelines, and the fundamentals of religion, and those who keep away from these guidelines, they are arrogant persons and they have to bear the responsibility of these actions.

I pray Allah Almighty for help and glory.

May peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
Today King Abdullah ordered the Saudi Arabian Majlis ash-Shura to add not less than 20% women to its ranks beginning with the convening of the next term of office. This SUSRIS special report provides the announcement published by the Saudi Press Agency earlier today which includes changes to the Majlis Ash-Shura Law and the names of the Speaker and the 150 members of the next term.

Shura Council Adds 30 Women Members

Riyadh, Safar 29, 1434, Jan 11, 2013, SPA -- Two royal orders, amending the Shura Council system and forming a new chamber for four Hijra years, starting the expiration of the term of office of the current Shura Council, have been issued here today.

According to the Royal Order, the Shura Council will be consisting of its speaker and 150 members, all to be chosen by the King according to their knowledge, experience and profession, provided that women would be represented in the Council with no less than 20% of its members.

'After having reviewed the Governance Statute and the Shura Council's system and regulations and consulting with a big number of Ulema, members and non-members of the Senior Ulema Commission, who passed a proposal on the participation of women in the Shura Council in accordance with Sharia laws, a course we are not going to divert from a hairsbreadth as it is considered the pillar base of this nation laid by its founder late King Abdulaziz, and as per the interests of the public, we have ordered the amendment of the Third Article of the Shura Council system to read as follows:

'The Shura Council will be formed of a Speaker and 150 members, to be selected by the King according to their knowledge, experience and profession, provided that women would be represented in the Council with no less than 20% of its members. A royal order will designate the members' rights, duties and other things', the Royal Order said.
Article 22 of the Regulations of the Shura Council will read as follows:

Each of the sub-committees of the Shura Council will be formed by the Shura Council itself of a number of members no less than five. They will be chosen by the Shura Council, naming the committee's Chairman and deputy, and taking into consideration the needs of the committee and the profession of each committee member as well as the participation of women in the committees.

The Shura Council will have the right to form ad hoc committees to study specific issues. Each committee is allowed to form from among its members a sub-committe or more to study a specific issue.

Women, selected as members of the Shura Council, will enjoy full rights of memebrship, be committed to their duties, responsibilites and assume their jobs.

As per the introduction of this order, women, who are members of the Shura Council, will be asked to strictly follow the Islamic Sharia regulations, without any kind of violation, including the Shraia head and face covers (Hijab). In particular, the following points should be observed:

1- A special seating place will be allocated for women of the Shura Council, a special entrace and exit to and from the Council main hall will also be constructed and all relevant things in complete non-touch with men.

2- Special places will be allotted for women, guaranteeing complete isolation from those allotted for men, including special offices for them and for their workers and helpers, e.g. special appliances and services and prayer places.
This order should be carried with immediate effect', the Royal Order said.

According to the Royal Order, the new Shura Council, will be formed from Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh, Speaker of the Shura Council. Following are the members, who will serve for four Hijra years, starting from the date of the expiration of the term of office of the current Shura Council which was formed upon the Royal Order No. A/15 dated 19/2/1430 H.:

1- Dr. / Mohammed bin Ameen bin Ahmed Al-Jeffery, Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council
2- Dr./ Fahhad bin Mu'tad bin Shafaq Al-Hamad, Assistant Speaker of the Shura Council
3- Mr./Ibrahim bin Abdulrahman bin Sulaiman Al-Bilaihi
4-/ Dr. Ibrahim bin abdullah in Mohammed Albrahim
5-/ Dr. Ibrhaim bin Mohammed bin Abdullah Abu Abat
6-/ Mr. Ahmed bin Ibrahim bin Meen Al-Hakami
7-/ Dr. Ahmed bin Saad bin Ahmed Al Mifreh
8-/ Dr. Ahmed bin Omer bin Mohammed Al Aqeel Al-Zaylaee
9- Dr./ Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Aboush Al-Ghamdi
10- Dr./ Ahmed bin Mahdi bin Mohammed Al-Shuwaikhat
11- Mr. / Osama bin Ali bin Majed Gabbani
12- Dr. / Elham bint Mahjoub bin Ahmed Hasanain
13- Dr./ Amal bint Salamah bin Sulaiman Al-Shaman

14- Eng. / Thamer bin Abdulmohsen bin Musaed Al-Ginawe
15- Dr./ Thamer bin Nasser bin Fahd bin Ghyshayan
16- Dr. / Thuraya bint Ahmed bin Obeid bin Mohammed Obeid
17- Dr. / Thuraya bint Ibrahim bin Hussein Al-Areedh

18- Mr. / Jubran bin Hamid bin Ali Dubraha Al-Gahtani
19- Dr. / Jebreel bin Hasan bin Mohammed Areeshi
20- Dr. / Al-Jawharah bint Ibrahim bin Mohammed Bu-Besht
21- Dr./ Hatem bin Hasan bin Hamza Abu-Hussein Al-Marzooqi
22- Dr./ Hamed bin Dhafi bin Mohammed Al-Warda Al-Sharari
23- Dr./ Hussam bin Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Al-Anqari
24- Dr./ Hamad bin Ayedh bin Mohammed bin Hamad Al Fahhad
25- Maj. Gen. Eng. Staff Pilot/ Hamad bin Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Husoon
26- Dr./ Hamdah bint Khalaf bin Miqbel Al-Enzy
27- Sheikh Dr. / Hamza bin Hussein bin Hamza Al-Fa'ar Al-Shareef
28- Dr./ Hanan bint Abdulraheem bin Mutlaq Al-Ahmadi
29- Dr./ Hayat bint Sulaiman bin Hasan Sindi

30- Dr./ Khalid bin Ibrahim bin Abdulrahman Al-Awwad
31- Dr./ Khalid bin Saad bin Abdulaziz bin Saeed
32- His Highness Dr./ Khalid bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Miqren Al-Mashari Al Saud
33- Dr./ Khalid bin Abdulmohsen bin Mohammed Al-Mehaisen
34- Dr./ Khalid bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Saif
35- Dr./ Khalid bin Mansour bin Nasser Al-Aqeel
36- H.E. Dr./ Khader bin Olayan bin Ali Al-Qurashi
37- Mr./ Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Rashed Al-Dosary
38- Mr./ Dr. Khalil bin Abdulfattah bin Khalil Kurdi
39- Dr./ Khola bint Sami bin Saleem Al-Keraia
40- Dr. / Dalal bint Mekhled bin Jahez Al-Harbi

41- Dr. / Rashed bin Hamad bin Rashed Al-Katheeri
42- Dr./ Zuhair bin Fahd bin Jaber Al-Harthi
43- Dr./ Zainet bint Muthanna bin Abduou Abu-Taleb
44- Her Royal Highness Princess/ Sarrah bint Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

45- Dr./ Salem bin Ali bin Salem Al-Gahtani
46- Dr./ Sami bin Mohammed bin Hussein Zaidan
47- Dr./ Sattam bin Saud bin Abdullah Linjawe
48- Dr./ Saad bin Abdulrahamn bin Mohammed Al-Bazaaee
49- Dr./ Saad bin Mohammed bin Ahmed Mareq Assiri
50- Dr./ Saadoon bin Saad bin Saadoon Al-Saadoon
51- Dr./ Saud bin Humaid bin Remaizan Al-Sybaiee
52- Mr./ Saud bin Abdulrahamn bin Rashed Al-Shammari
53- Dr./ Saeed bin Abdullah bin Isa Alsheikh
54- Dr./ Sultan bin Hasan bin Sultan Al-Sultan
55- Dr./ Salwa bint Abdullah bin Fahad Al-Hazaa
56- H.E. Mr./ Sulaiman bin Saad bin Abdulrahman Al-Homaid
57 - Sheikh / Suleiman bin Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Majid
58 - Mr. / Saleh bin Hasan bin Abdullah Al-Afaleq
59 - Mr. / Saleh bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Hemaidi
60 - Mr. / Saleh bin Eid bin Hamdan Al-Hussaini
61 - Dr. / Sadagah bin Yahya bin Hamza Fadil
62 - Dr. / Tareq bin Ali bin Hasan Fada'ak
63 - Mr. / Azeb bin Saeed bin Ali Al Mosbel
64 - Dr. / Abdulrahman bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Heijan
65 - Mr. / Abdulrahman bin Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al-Rashid
66 - H.E. Dr. / Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Swailem
67 - H.E. Mr. / Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen bin Abdullah Al-Abdulkadir
68 - Dr. / Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Saleem Al-Atwi
69 - Mr. / Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim bin Saad Al-Hadlaq
70 - Dr. / Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Hargan
71 - Maj. Gen. Dr./ Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim bin Abdullah Al-Saab
72 - Dr. / Abdulaziz bin Adeeb bin Hasan Taher
73 - Brig. Gen. Dr. Eng. / Abdulaziz bin Turki bin Abdullah Al-Otaishan
74 - Dr. / Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman bin Mugbil Al-Shamekh
75 - Mr. / Abdulaziz bin Abdulkarim bin Abdulaziz Al-Issa
76 - Dr. / Abdulaziz bin Gablan bin Maqbool Al-Srani
77 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Ibrahim bin Abdullah Al-Askar
78 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Ahmed bin Ali Al-Fifi
79 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Homoud bin Humaid Al-Lahibi Al-Harbi
80 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Zabin bin Eid Al-Otaibi
81 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Salim bin Jaber Al-Ma'atani
82 - Eng. / Abdullah bin Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nujaidi
83 - Maj. Gen. Staff Pilot / Abdullah bin Abdulkarim bin Abdullah Al-Saadoun
84 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Ali bin Mohammed Al-Munif
85 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Muharib bin Sehan Al-Thofiri
86 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Jegiman
87 - Mr. / Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Nasser
88 - Dr. / Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saleh Nassif
89 - Ambassador Dr. / Abdulmohsen bin Fahd bin Mark Al-Mark
90 - Dr. / Adnan bin Ahmed bin Hasan Al-Bar
91 - Mr. / Assaf bin Salim bin Faisal Abu Thnain
92 - Dr. / Atallah bin Ahmed bin Muslim Abu Hassan
93 - Mr. / Atta bin Hamoud bin Atta Al-Subeiti
94 - Dr. / Ali bin Saad bin Ibrahim Al-Tokhais
95 - Dr. / Ali bin Abdulkarim bin Nasser Al Thuwaini
96 - Dr. / Ali bin Abdullah bin Saeed Mughram Al-Ghamdi
97 - Maj. Gen./ Ali bin Mohammed bin Fahd Al-Tamimi
98 - Mr. / Ali bin Nasser bin Dahash Al-Wazzrah
99 - Dr. / Amr bin Ibrahim bin Bakr Rajab
100 - Dr. / Awad bin Khzeim bin Ali Al Suroor Al-Asmari
101 - Sheikh / Isa bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Ghaith
102 - Dr. / Ghazi bin Faisal bin Saeed Mohammed bin Zagr
103 - Dr. / Fatima bint Mohammed bin Mohsen Al Saeed Al-Qarni
104 - Dr. / Faleh bin Mohammed bin Faleh Al-Saghayer
105 - Dr. / Fayez bin Abdullah bin Ali Al-Shihri
106 - Dr. / Fadwa bint Salamah bin Odeh Abu Marifah
107 - Dr. / Fardous bint Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saleh

108 - Dr. / Fahd bin Hamoud bin Saleh Al-Faqiri Al-Enezi
109 - Dr. / Lubna bint Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al-Tayeb Al-Ansari
110 - Dr. / Latifa bint Othman bin Ibrahim Al-Shaalan

111 - Dr. / Majed bin Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Muneef
112 - Dr. / Mohsen bin Ali bin Fares bin Hussein Al-Hazmi
113 - Mr. / Mohammed bin Hamid bin Ahmed Al-Nagadi
114 - Mr. / Mohammed bin Dakhil bin Abedrabbo Al-Suhaimi Al-Mutairi
115 - Sheikh / Mohammed bin Saad bin Abdullah Al-Sa'adan
116 - Dr. / Mohammed bin Saeed bin Ahmed Al Ahmed Al-Qahtani
117 - Sheikh / Mohammed bin Saleh bin Ali Al-Dehaim
118 - Dr. / Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al Naji Al-Qahtani
119 - Brig. Gen.Staff / Mohammed bin Faisal bin Jaber Abu Sag
120 - Mr. / Mohammed bin Murshid bin Rashid Al-Rehaily
121 - Dr. / Mohammed bin Mehdi bin Abdulmohsen Al-Khunaizi
122 - Mr. / Mohammad Reza bin Mansour bin Hasan Nasrallah
123 - Dr. / Mahmoud bin Mohammed bin Mustafa Al-Bedaiwi
124 - Dr. / Mastourah bint Obaid bin Lafi Al-Husseini Al-Shammari
125 - Dr. / Mishaal bin Fehem bin Mohammed Al-Sulami
126 - Dr. / Mustafa bin Mohammed Al-Hassan bin Mohammed Al-Idrisi
127 - Eng. / Mufreh bin Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Saher Al-Zahrani
128 - Dr. / Mufleh bin Dgyeman bin Sebeel Al-Rashidi
129 - Mr. / Mansour bin Saad bin Fahd Al-Kredes
130 - Dr. / Muna bint Abdullah bin Saeed Al Mushayt
131 - Dr. / Muna bint Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Dosari

132 - Dr. / Moafig bin Fawaz bin Hallaf Al-Ruwaili
133 - Her Royal Highness Princess / Moudi bint Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
134 - Dr. / Moudi bint Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Dugaither

135 - Dr. / Nasser bin Rajeh bin Mohammed Al-Tobi Al-Shahrani
136 - Sheikh Dr./ Nasser bin Zaid bin Nasser bin Dawood
137 - Dr. / Nasser bin Ali bin Abdullah Al-Mousa
138 - Maj. Gen. Eng./ Nasser bin Ghazi bin Nasser Al-Shaibani Al-Otaibi
139 - Mr. / Nayef bin Marzouq bin Manea Al-Fahhadi
140 - Dr. / Nihad bint Mohammed Saeed bin Ahmed Al-Jeshi
141 - Dr. / Nawaf bin Bedah bin Abdullah Al-Faghm
142 - Dr. / Nora bint Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Mubarak
143 - Dr. / Nora bint Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Asqah
144 - Dr. / Nora bint Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Adwan

145 - Mr. / Hashim bin Ali bin Hamzah Al-Rajeh
146 - Dr. / Hani bin Yusuf bin Ibrahim Khashogji
147 - Mr. / Huda bint Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Halisi
148 - Dr. / Hia bint Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Manea
149 - Dr. / Wafa bint Mahmoud bin Abdullah Taibah

150 - Dr. / Yahya bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Samaan.
The Order issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdualziz Al Saud instructed the Speaker of Shura Council to implement this order with immediate effect.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Saudi women will take the right to drive cars

A great interview with Saudi women's rights and driving activist, Manal Al Sharif from Emirates 24/7. The article is pasted below and a link to it is here.

Saudi female activist Manal Al Sharif who hit headlines after she was briefly jailed for defying a ban on driving cars in the conservative Gulf Kingdom said on Thursday the day would come when women would be able to wrest that right and drive.

In comments sent to Emirates 24/7, Al Sharif said Saudi women must pursue their struggle to achieve all their rights not only driving cars.

Al Sharif was asked whether she believes the day will come when Saudi women would be allowed to drive in the Moslem Kingdom, the world’s dominant oil power.

“The question should not be whether women will be ‘allowed because the Saudi Monarchy will never give away rights just like that,” she said.

“The question should be: will women ‘take’ the right to drive... my answer is yes, that right and bigger.. if they understand what led to losing their rights and stopped accepting their rights to being used by the system to please certain group of people in Saudi Arabia and here I mean religious establishment.. it's up to women not them.. women don't realize that yet.. once they do, they will win the struggle and set their own rules that everyone shall respect..”

Al Sharif, a 33-year-old computer expert at the state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco, was the key figure in a women’s campaign in 2011 pressing for lifting a long-standing ban on women to drive cars inside the kingdom, the largest Arab economy.

Saudi officials say it is up to Kingdom Abdullah to issue a decision ending the ban, which they attribute to social barriers in the country of 28 million people.

In an article published by the London-based Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat on Wednesday, Al Sharif said she had faced what she described a concerted hostile campaign inside Saudi Arabia, adding that she has been accused of being an “Israeli agent” and a “Shiite Moslem” working for Iran.

Al Sharif also said she was shocked to learn that her little son was beaten by his school mates for being the son of “Manal Al Sharif.”

“I was shocked and frightened to see marks of beating on my son’s face…he told me older school mates hit him because he is the son of Manal Al Sharif who drove a car…he was only 5 years old in 2011 when he was subjected to this,” she said.

“One boy said to him ‘I saw your mother on Facebook but you and your mother should be in prison…I still remember when I struggled to calm down my son because I was even more frightened than him….how could a 5-year-old understand a word like jail.”