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Carwashing in the Arabian Desert

Saudi women are on the verge of being allowed to drive – just in time for the era of driverless cars.

Behind all the recent news and turmoil involving Saudi Arabia – including the announcement that the notorious driving ban will end in 2018 – is the grim reality of the oppression that Saudi women still face.

Soon Saudi women will be able to drive to a doctor – only to be denied healthcare unless they have secured a male guardian’s permission. The same applies for driving to the bank, their workplace or the airport. All such facilities remain solely the province of men -and women are only allowed to access them with male permission.

Manal Al-Sharif, the key activist behind the successful online campaign for the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, put it poignantly when she said, “Driving is not what we are looking for – but being in the driver’s seat of our only destiny. That means ending guardianship in Saudi Arabia, which means recognizing women as full citizens.”

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