Congratulations my sisters!

Muna Al Fuzai

Congratulations to all Saudi women and salute to King Salman of Saudi Arabia who took a courageous and historic decision to support the long standing demand of Saudi women to drive cars in their own country.

The decision matches with the vision of Saudi 2030 and will be implemented from June 2018. The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike.
A truly historic, yet not surprising decision given all the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia right now.

The longstanding driving ban was seen globally as a symbol of repression of women in the ultra-conservative country. Not anymore. The decision, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s reform drive aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and adapting more social and economic new rules.

The reaction and attitude of some conservative clerics are predictable not only in Saudi Arabia but anywhere in the world because these men do not see women as independent human beings with rights and duties, but merely followers of men. They have yet to realize that we are equal and deserve equal human rights.

I am so happy that the Saudi king took this decision and he is indeed a very brave and forward thinking man. It is not an easy thing to promote change in a place like Saudi Arabia. But I believe his trust and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision and support for women’s rights brought this dream to reality.

For many years, conservatives groups had fought against this change and even justified the ban – which has no religious or legal support – by claiming that driving could harm a women’s ovaries!

Under the country’s guardianship system, the male family member – normally the father, husband or brother – must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities. But let us hope that along with this decree for driving, other more flexible laws will grant women in Saudi Arabia greater independence in the near future.

What’s happening now in Saudi Arabia reminds me of when the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah granted Kuwaiti women the right to vote in 2006. There was huge resistance and opposition to women’s suffrage in Kuwait, with many conservative men claiming that women were not ready for the responsibility or that it was unnecessary.
But women’s rights are human rights and necessary for moving the entire Gulf region into a prosperous and peaceful future for us all.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

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