Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prince Waleed bin Talal: It's Time for Saudi Women to Drive

On November 29, 2016, Time's Madeline Farber reports that Prince Waleed bin Talal has tweeted in favor of women driving. A link to the story and video is here,  and the text and video are pasted below.

"It is high time that Saudi women started driving their cars"

A member of the Saudi royal family has broken with long-established tradition and called for the country to allow women to drive.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal posted a letter Tuesday titled “It is High Time that Saudi Women Started Driving their Cars,” to his Twitter account. Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not permitted to drive.
“Preventing a woman from driving a car today is an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” he wrote.
Alwaleed went on to list financial, economic, social, religious, and political factors that women should be allowed to drive there.
Alwaleed wrote that allowing women to drive cars would lead to job growth, and notes that it comes as a “necessity,” not a “social luxury” as it has been in the past—writing that there’s an “urgent social demand predicated upon current economic circumstances.”
But Alwaleed’s beliefs are a drastically different from the country’s deputy crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. In April, he said that he’s “not convinced about women driving,” citing social, not religious, reasons for his opinion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Saudi advisory council rejects study of women driving

Now AFP has come out with a more nuanced report on what happened in the Shoura Council, it was a proposal to make a study about women driving. Apparently this proposal was rejected, seemingly over the proper process.... A link to the story is here, and the text is below, taken from the UK's Daily Mail of November 2, 2016.

Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, which advises the cabinet, has turned down a proposal to study the issue of women's driving, a Shura member told AFP on Wednesday.
The kingdom has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.
At a meeting this week, a male member of the appointed council suggested the study, said another member who declined to be named.
He said the enquiry would have looked at: "What are the difficulties if they start? What is required to allow them to drive?"
But the proposal failed to get the required 50 percent plus one support among the council's 150 members, who include 30 women.
The council can make non-binding recommendations to the government but it has no legislative powers.
Activists say women's driving is not technically illegal but that the ban is linked to tradition and custom.
A slow expansion of women's rights began under the late king Abdullah, who named them to the Shura Council in 2013.
He also announced that women could for the first time vote and run in municipal elections. At least 20 women were elected for the 2,106 contested council seats last December.
Some activists have challenged the driving ban by getting behind the wheel and posting images of themselves online.
Other Saudi women, however, believe change cannot be forced -- a message the kingdom's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, gave in April when he unveiled the Vision 2030 plan for economic diversification and social change.
"So far the society is not persuaded -- and it has negative influence -- but we stress that it is up to the Saudi society," he said, commenting on whether women should drive.
The Vision and its associated National Transformation Programme target an increase in the proportion of female workforce participation from 23 to 28 percent by 2020.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Saudi Shoura Council rejects recommendation on women drivers

From the al-Arabiyyah news in the US, comes this story dated October 31, 2016. A link to the story is here and the text is pasted below. I have not seen any domestic news reports of this and am trying to get confirmation.

Al Arabiya English News Monday, 31 October 2016

The Saudi Shoura Council rejected a recommendation on women driving cars, in its meeting on Monday.
The council, decided earlier to convene to discuss a bill to “foster an environment conducive to legalize female driving.”
While some say that in Saudi Arabia, no penal code exists that explicitly states that women are forbidden from driving, and that the government simply does not issue licenses to women, some Saudi Shoura Council members reopened discussion on women driving in the country.
Last Update: Monday, 31 October 2016 KSA 20:08 - GMT 17:08