Saudi women may be allowed to drive

Saudi women may be allowed to drive
The Consultative Assembly (also known as Shura Council) of Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive a car, says it is ready to discuss suspension of the ban but it must happen according to special rules.

The head of Shura Council Sheikh Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh said the Council can discuss this issue but “it is important that the discussion occurs within regulations and according to specific mechanisms.”

The Shura Council is the advisory body of the monarchy. It has the right to propose laws to the king but cannot pass them. It consists of 150 members, and King Abdullah appointed 30 women advisors to the all-male Council this year.

READ MORE: Shura shake-up: Saudi women allowed on Consultative Council

The discussion follows the arrest of Loujain Al Hathloul, a Saudi woman who was detained December 1 on the UAE-Saudi border for driving a car. A journalist Maysaa Al Amoudi who brought Al Hathloul water and food covered the police actions. Besides, Al Hathloul herself and her supporters reported everything happened to her in Twitter accounts.

“I have been at the Saudi border for 24 hours. They don’t want to give me my passport nor will they let me pass,” her last tweet said.

She had had to spend a night in the car and then she and Maysaa Al Amoudi were detained.

The family of Loujain Al Hathloul was told her detention was extended to 25 days, however, no information about the charges was given.

Last Saturday six women were arrested while driving in Loujain Al Hathloul’s support.

Earlier, the Shura gave recommendation that women over the age of 30 should be allowed behind the wheel, but only until 8pm each day, and without the application of make-up, with the permission of a male relative. However, the recommendation was not officially made public.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia mulls women’s right to drive - but only for over-30s ‘without make-up’

Saudi women began demanding the right to drive in the 1990s. In 2007 activist Wajeha Al Huwaider collected 1,100 signatures and handed a petition to the king, though there was no success. In 2011 dozens of women posted online photos and videos of themselves driving. The action occurred again in 2013. Last year, more than 60 women participated in a protest where they took to the streets, with many of them uploading videos of themselves driving to YouTube.