Women driving in Saudi Arabia


Addie Wallace

Cottonwood High School students driving after school.

Sara Alshammary, Staff Writer

In 1848 American women began the women’s suffrage movement, which was the fight for women’s rights. Since 1920, when women earned the right to vote, women’s rights in America have grown into something bigger than we ever could have imagined. In 2018, in Saudi Arabia, a country with fewer women’s rights, women are finally allowed to drive. King Salman allowed women to get a driver’ss license in January, 2018. Before that, women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.

Some women in Saudi didn’t mind that they couldn’t drive because many families have a personal driver. Khalid Alshammary, current resident in Saudi Arabia, claims that in February 2019, 87.2% of Saudi families have a personal driver. Women weren’t allowed to start driving on the roads until June, 2018. Saudi has received a total of 33 million dollars for women to drive because women have to pay for lessons and to get their driver’s license . Each woman who was interested in driving had  to spend almost $2,500 for lessons at local driving schools. Many women did not receive their license after taking the classes. People were angry because they believed that the women were qualified to drive, but the driving schools did not want to give them a license. Saudi Arabia will honor a driver’s license from another country as long as the driver has had it for at least a year. 

Other countries have been speaking and congratulating Saudi women for finally being able to drive. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations tweeted, “I welcome Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.” As of February 6, 2019 the tweet had 2,038 retweets.  Many people agree with him because, since women started driving in 2018, more Saudi women have been going to college compared men, said Khalid Alshammary. Saudi women are currently studying all over the world

Ride sharing app use has also decreased. Almost 2,000 women have deleted ride sharing apps since women have started to drive. Abdullah Elyas, co-founder and chief privacy officer of Careems, a ride sharing company, told CNN, “From the first moment, we announced our willingness to welcome the ladies to work on our platform.” Seventy percent of Careem’s base are females. Careem  said they hope to hire 10,000  “ female captains” or drivers by June on Saudi’s local news station.

Colt Roundup interviewed Tharwat Alfaleh, a Saudi Arabian citizen who lives in the United States, about the subject of women driving in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Alfaleh said, “I can’t wait to get back to Saudi to exchange my U.S. driver license.”  Colt Roundup asked Alfaleh if she thinks it’s good for women to drive in a country where women have no rights and she responded with “Yes, because Saudi is finally making good adjustments to the country after years of begging for our rights.”