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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
Saudi views on driving ban
Saudi Arabian citizens comment on a petition urging the king to overturn their country's ban on women driving.

NOORA, WIFE AND MOTHER, PART-TIME WRITER, 40s

A woman gets in a taxi in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Women take taxis or hire drivers

Women need to be able to drive.

But I think these women who are calling for the right to drive are being used by the liberals, who want to impose their ideology on Saudi Arabia.

I don't want to be forced to follow the liberals, because they don't represent who I am.

Being a wife and a mother, I would like to be able to drive; it would be useful if I needed to take the children to a doctor. We employ a male driver instead.

Even if there were a law enabling women to drive, society itself would reject the women who did so.

It's a taboo that has been ingrained in Saudi society. It's not just a legal issue, but a social tradition. Saudi households would reject the idea.

Take another example; many Saudi women would like to sing or take up acting, but this is rejected within society.

Those who defy this social rejection and leave the kingdom - for Lebanon, or Kuwait, to act or sing - they become pariahs, no longer accepted in society.

This is what will happen if a woman decides to drive, even if there is a law that allows it.

LOAY AL-KABBANI, CREDIT ANALYST, 28, RIYADH

I would like women to drive here. It would give families more flexibility.

As it is, you need to hire a driver which means bringing strangers into the family - our driver always lived in my parents' house.

Many of the drivers get lost a lot and have lots of accidents

We had lots of different nationalities, some were Asian, some from Arab countries. It's difficult because they are from different cultures and they don't know the language.

It's a huge city, they get lost a lot. Many of them have only just learned to drive, so they have lots of accidents. It's a big issue.

And in this type of job, the drivers change every two years. You don't really know who they are, some of them have criminal backgrounds.

Usually we would make sure there were at least two females in the car, for example my mother and sister. Or I would travel with my sister. Because we don't know the driver at all, we try to give them extra safety.

My sister already has a driving licence, when we go abroad - to Syria, France, wherever - she has her own car and she drives.

I don't think the government would mind granting women this freedom, but I think the people themselves don't want it to happen.

It's all about tradition - not religion or politics. It's about sticking with the old ways we were all raised in.

My mother is fairly old now, so we take care of her. She doesn't want to drive - she enjoys us driving her!

IBRAHIM HUSSAIN, SALES CO-ORDINATOR, 57, AL-KHOBAR

I am from India, but I have been living in Saudi Arabia for 20 years.

I am married and I have daughters. We don't have a driver - I drive them about myself. This works fine and the women in my family do not want to drive.

In the interests of safety and security, I don't want women driving in Saudi Arabia

Women should not be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. If this happens, there will be more crime, accidents and disorder.

There will be more accidents because of the increase in traffic. However, the government is preparing for more traffic by building new roads and new overhead bridges.

If Saudi Arabia allows women to drive, there will have to be more law-enforcement officers in and around the cities.

There would also have to be more night patrols throughout the kingdom. There would also have to be women-only garages and service centres.

It will mean more social problems in the future.

Maybe a few women do want to drive, but this is not really a big issue.

In the interests of safety and security - I don't want women driving in Saudi Arabia.

SAID, UNIVERSITY LECTURER, 50, RIYADH

I have already taught my wife and most of my daughters how to drive. We go outside the city and drive there.

In the Bedouin areas, women drive around, no problem. The Bedouins are far away from any sort of control. I teach in a university and students who come from there tell us about it.

The religious establishment interferes in almost every area of life here. The ministry of interior even controls the names you give your children. It is an oppressive establishment; all our problems stem from that.

There was no problem with women riding camels and donkeys in the past

I don't have any faith in the government. The king is weak, he's not ready for a challenge.

When King Faisal tried to introduce education for girls, the same religious establishment opposed it. But the king was strong enough to enforce it.

If the current government were strong enough they could make it happen, but I don't think they want to. They are frightened of being accused of deviating from Islam.

Every time they are asked about it, they say it will come naturally. But if we lived in a natural society, women would have been driving as soon as cars began.

There was no problem with women riding camels and donkeys in the past. What's wrong with cars?



SEE ALSO
Saudi women challenge driving ban
18 Sep 07 |  Middle East
The slow pace of change in Saudi
17 Dec 05 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Saudi woman takes the wheel
12 Jul 05 |  Middle East
Driving ban stays for Saudi women
13 Jun 05 |  Middle East
Crash sparks Saudi driving debate
27 May 04 |  Middle East
Saudi woman drivers ban maintained
26 Apr 01 |  Middle East
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
14 Jul 07 |  Country profiles



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