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9 May, 2018 22:47

Saudi women furious at costs pricing them out of historic chance to drive

Saudi women furious at costs pricing them out of historic chance to drive

Saudi women are up in arms over the cost of driving lessons - a financial hurdle that many believe could stop females from taking to the roads for the first time ever when historic legislation passes.

Women were banned from the roads in Saudi Arabia up until September last year, when a royal decree declared that females would legally be allowed to own a driving licence.

In the past, women have reportedly been jailed for breaking the cultural code. In July last year, human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested outside King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. Al-Hathloul had previously attempted to drive from the United Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia.

According to local news, a date has now been set for the historic moment in women’s history - June 24 - with General Mohammed al-Bassami, the director of the Department of Traffic, quoted as saying that “all the requirements for women to start driving have been established.”

However, while they may soon be equal in terms of driving law, many have reportedly pointed out the disparity in driving lesson costs between women and men.

Gulf News, an English language newspaper based in Dubai, reports that driving license fees for women could rise to 5,000 Saudi Riyal, the equivalent of around $1,330.

In contrast, men can expect to pay just 450 Saudi Riyal for driving lessons with a teacher, the report adds. Saudi women have since taken to social media to express their fury at the premium they must pay to drive.

“I’m angry at the prices of driving license,” said Twitter user Basmah, who is based in Riyadh.  

Another described the cost as “very expensive.” “[It] will greatly limit women’s interest in driving the car,” they said.

“Instead of giving satisfaction to the Saudi girls… they raised the driver’s license amounts exponentially,” another social media commenter stated.

Amid the online uproar, the Saudi government has promised to look at the price issues.

Dr. Fatima Al Nasrallah, a surgeon based in Riyadh, posted details about the process and how training and theory tests cost her more than 2,500 Saudi Riyal.