Tag Archives: saudi women driving
Image

Why Most Saudi Women Dread Holidays –

27 Oct

… Unless they’re traveling.

If you’ve lived in Saudi for any length of time you will have noticed that anyone who can will rush to the airport as soon as there are a few days off, even a day or two earlier. It’s not because we can’t do with our London/Paris/Nyc/Cairo/Beirut/Dubai/Istanbul visits, (well, it is but that’s not all) It’s because on holidays, most women and families are driver-less, hence stuck at home unless the dad/husband/driving age brother feels like some family time and takes everyone out for a walk on the corniche or around the mall.

It gets even worse when the holiday is attached to the weekend. As if it’s not enough that 50% of my weekend (Fridays) is unplan-able unless its within walking distance or I manage to sort out some other driver. This year, al Adha Eid happened to start on a Saturday. This made for two consecutive stuck-at-home days. No wheels, no friends, no errands, no plans. (In truth we went out for a family brunch on Sat, but you get what I mean).

I’m not advocating making drivers work on holidays, on the contrary I’m all for fair working hours and good holidays. I just don’t see why that should come at the expense of my own rights. Why should my freedom of movement mean someone else’s enslavement? Because let’s face it, that’s what it really is if you expect 18hr workdays and no weekends or holidays. No wonder so many Saudis travel. What all the above cities have in common is that you can just walk out and go to a cafe and see people. Or take taxis and metros and trains and other modes of public transportation. I don’t know about you but the taboo on taxis still stands in my family. And I’ve heard some weird stories about these companies that you hire for individual rides (won’t name names, but one guy started calling my friend on her phone and harassing her, and she had hired him via an app!).

I know some people (hopefully none of you) will say “well big deal, stay at home for a day or two”, but no thanks, I’d rather my lazy couch-potato, anti-social days be self-imposed and not mandatory.

couch potato homer

 

 

 

We need an Ad-lee

6 Feb

Tides change, months and years go by, websites and apps take over the world, and we still can’t drive our cars. No only cane we not drive our cars, but any other form of public transportation either doesn’t exist or is dangerous. But Saudi is full of entrepreneurs and businessmen eager to start something that will make tons of money. What I don’t understand is WHY HASN’T ANYONE SOLVED OUR DRIVER PROBLEM???!!

So far, the most common way of finding a driver is sending out a whatsapp broadcast and having your friends ask their drivers if they know anyone looking for a job. How efficient. Talk about desperate times…

idea-girl

So, if any of you are looking for a lucrative, profitable business, listen closely because I’m about to offer you the business opportunity of the year. Yes it needs a bit of a hefty investment, but trust me, the returns will be worth it.

1- Bring in a fleet of, say, 100 cars to begin with. Brand them nicely with your website on the back.

2- Hire and train capable drivers for those cars. They can be local, but they have to know the roads, wear a clean uniform (opportunity to design your own branded thobes) and have basic manners and communication skills. They have to know that if they make any client uncomfortable or harass her, there will be consequences. They also have to have good benefits and achievable targets/shifts to ensure that they stay on.

3- Get a programmer to design an app like the one Addison lee has in the UK (http://www.addisonlee.com/). Make sure its in Arabic as well. This app will require the pick up time, location, and drop off location. It then provides you with the fee quotation, and sends a text message to your phone with the driver’s car plate and phone number when he has arrived at the pickup point.

4- A modest online campaign or a viral one and You’re ready to go! Just sit back and watch the money roll in.

 

Addison lee is not the only car pick up service available in the UK. and I’m sure there are many more as well around the world. So why is it so difficult and expensive to get a decent ride? or cheap and dangerous. These illegal drivers are still on the rode, operating their own fleet via word of mouth. My friends were joking the other night about how they are all using the same driver to the point where he tells one about the whereabouts of the other, especially if they got dropped off at the same location!

 

So yeah, and takers out there?? Come on we need to use these apps to our advantage!

How Candy Crush has Saved My Realationship With My Driver

4 Feb

unnamed

I’m going to admit to a slight addiction to the notorious Candy Crush. But since I have a fear of Addictions, I limit my use to certain locations… before bed, when I wake up, in the umm… “loo” , and in the car. That last bit has probably saved my driver from having me freak out on him for wrong turns, taking the long way, flashing his lights at cars, weaving in and out of traffic, and various other annoying to dangerous driving habits that my otherwise un-preoccupied self would have jumped at.

Basically I’m not paying attention to his driving, or the road, or the idiots and the road. Not backseat driver, a lot less stress.

So Thank you Candy Crush. You might be a huge waste of time, but in this case, you’ve been very useful!

International Support: From Tesla in CA, to Topless in Germany!

31 Oct

I must say, It’s quite heartwarming to see the wave of international support Saudi women have been receiving to support this cause. Ironically, most Saudis are still very weary of anything international (especially the big bad west) and tend to question the motives of said support. Just to quote one facebook comment:

“You can’t support what you don’t understand. I don’t like outsider supporting us because they don’t understand us. what some people are protesting to have Saudi women remove hijab or something else. all I’m saying is what work for one country doesn’t necessarily work for another country. if we want something we will get it . no need to let outsider interfere. it’s not negativity it just opinions man. !!!”

The general view is that this is “our” problem. That its is an internal one and that we don’t need international interference making us look like a bunch of liberals that are out to destroy the fabric of society and westernize our women so that they go out to the streets in shorts and all become strippers.

… or something like that.

I think most Saudi are not only private, but are also very pessimistic with an overactive imagination always assuming the worst. I wonder why that is… and ideas anyone?

Naturally many people have multiple motives for doing things, but that doesn’t eliminate the first motive which is a show of support.

For example, Tesla, the beautiful eco friendly car, has released an emotionally driven ad that supports women driving in Saudi, pleading with the King to make an official decree. Tesla is also a car company that I’m sure would love to enter the Saudi market in the future. The cause also fits their identity: Eco friendly, human rights, world peace. Just because this ad might drive sales for them and gain international viewing doesn’t mean that the message is insincere or false. I personally loved it.

Another widely-reported incident was that of the Activists of Femen protesting topless in freezing temperatures in front of the Saudi embassy in Berlin. While my personal opinion is against such … erm… flamboyant shows of support, it’s still drawing international support and hopefully international pressure. Most social media comments I’ve seen from Saudis and non-Saudis living here showed outrage and disgust and such a performance. Labeling them as exhibitionists, sick, crazy, and doing more damage to the cause than anything else. While I agree that it’s not going to do us any good, I don’t think it will do any damage, and I still appreciate the show of support no matter what crazy form in takes, who am I to decide what’s acceptable and what isn’t? Here are some photos, in case you want to check it out. In the end they are only a handful of women who gave the Saudi embassy employees a free peep-show. I can’t help but wonder if they weren’t topless, would many others have joined them. Is it numbers or attention that matter, or neither?

Also on this matter, here is an article by The Sydney Morning Herald discussing accident rates in Saudi, and coming to the conclusion that maybe its Saudi MEN who shouldn’t be driving! haha

Time.com has also posted a few articles, they seem to be following this issue closely. In the first, It talks about what its like growing up in a country where you know you won’t be able to drive when you’re older, and this blog even gets a mention! (Yay so proud), The other looks at how Saudi women are trying to deal with Driving vs Civil rights.

I guess in the end, most Saudis don’t understand empathy for someone you share nothing with, don’t even know, besides being part of the human race (and maybe the same gender). They keep looking upon international input or support with suspicion, stubbornly maintaining that “This is our problem, we can handle it ourselves.”

Well hun, you belong to the only and last country in the WORLD that bans women from driving. A little support to cheer you up and maybe nudge decision-makers opinions in your favor can’t hurt.

Are We Watching History In The Making?

24 Oct

A recent article I read in the Saudi Gazette gave me high hopes that I might actually witness this amazing change in the near future. I had almost given up. Hussein Shobokshi wrote an article titled “Driving Time!” that is both supportive an hopeful of an impending change. I really hope that’s true.

 

On a side note, my cousin (who lives in Riyadh and can be called quite conservative) sent me a joke on whatsapp about the car she’s getting when women can drive. It was a one-seater so no one asks her for a ride. I felt I had to point out that she said “when” and not “if” women drive. Her reply: It’s only a matter of time now. It’s those subtle changes in language that show what a society is really thinking. When “If” becomes “When”. Such a small word and such a huge psychological tell. Are we finally ready for this? Will we get to witness history in the making like when women started schools here??

 

I truly hope so.

Want to Hear a Joke?

28 Sep

luhaidan copy

Looks like yet another “scholar” has managed to make himself the laughing stock of the Saudi virtual world (and beyond)! “Sheikh” Saleh al Luhaidan has apparently made the mistake of telling Sabq online newspaper that the women who are demanding the right to drive on the 26th of October are “hasty” and need to “slow down” and “think about it”. Really?? being the last country in the WORLD where women can’t drive, you don’t think we’ve been patient enough??!

He then moves on to list three main reasons why women shouldn’t drive:

1- The Sahabeyat (Female Muslim apostles) only rode horses and camels when it was an absolute necessity and were normally accompanied by a Mahram (male relative).

2- Statistically women have more accidents than men, so they are in more danger. (33% for women vs. 9% of men)

and 3- “Research” shows that driving pushes the pelvis forwards and affects the ovaries causing deformed children.

 

Really?? REALLY??!!! Does he think we live in the stone age and don’t have Google or airlplane tickets??!!

Allow me to backtrack and list this guys so-called credentials. According to Sabq, he is “المستشار القضائي الخاص المستشار النفسي للجمعية النفسية في دول الخليج” that means he is a “Special Judicial Psychological Consultant to the Psychological Society of the Gulf Countries”. So he supposedly has a PhD in psychology.

Special is right. He belongs in the psyche ward, in a straight jacket.

His three points are so far off the bat, with ZERO accuracy in referencing or truth, I’m beginning to wonder how he ever got a PhD to begin with. The women at the time of the prophet probably walked most of the time like the men because: a-They lived in small towns and b-Only rich people had the luxury of animals to ride. The majority of religious scholars have admitted that there is no religious reason for women not to drive. So him trying to challenge that is a joke.

Statistically everyone knows that while women aren’t better drivers then men, they ARE safer drivers, resulting in less lethal accidents and more dents and scratches. That’s why they get better car insurance rates. If you don’t believe me click here, here and here!

And I’m not even getting into the pelvic-deformed-baby bullsh** because it’s such a bald-faced lie it’s made him the butt of the twitter world’s jokes which we all know can be merciless. I bet he got his medical PhD same way he got his Psychology one.

Al-Arabiya picked up on the story as well, for those of you who want to read a bit more on it in English.

So yeah, haha, end of joke!

Hope he’s so ridiculed he has to change his name and do plastic surgery to change his face to ever be accepted into society again.

 

Pop Music Jumps On The Bandwagon!

27 Sep

I find this highly amusing. A Kuwaiti singer named Shams has recently released a song that is causing quite a stir. It’s titled “It’s Our Right To Drive” and the lyrics go between asking, cajoling and teasing. She even sings that’s she’s rather save the money she pays the driver and buy a gift for her man instead! I translated one verse from the song:

“Let me drive a car,

understand the street and it’s secrets,

try me one let me drive a bit,

trust me you won’t lose a thing,

This is my right and I want it,

and tomorrow it will be mentioned in the newspaper”

There’s even a guy who replies:

“It’s better for you if you’d just ride a Camel”

 

Hilarious.

 

I don’t get the end though but apparently an ambulance is needed. Gee Shams, thanks a lot for the optimistic outlook.

In reply to the wave of criticism she faced, the singer just said that she’s free to sing about anything she wants and if they don’t have a sense of humor and don’t get it she really doesn’t even care that they exist. Hahaha! That’s Kuwaiti singers for you, with kuwaiti attitude to boot.

 

I’m not sure if she’s helping the issue or making it worse, or if she supports it or is using it to get attention. But hey, the more the merrier.