The campaign to lift the ban on Saudi women drivers may have been given an extra push by the arrest of Loujain Al Hathloul recently, when she took her car to the Saudi border, driving all the way from the United Arab Emirates. The fact that she was arrested and taken for interrogation with her friend Saudi journalist Maysaa Al Amoudi maybe a Godsend because media all around the world covered the arrest. They also reported that Hathloul’s passport was confiscated and she was forced to spend the night on her own in her car, while the Saudi border authorities decided what to do with her.
The news went viral as she live tweeted the event on social media website Twitter. She was under the media spotlight tweeting “The Customs [Directorate] have no right to prevent me from entering [Saudi Arabia] even if in their opinion I am ‘a violator’ because I am a Saudi.” In another tweet, she said her licence “is valid in all GCC countries”, including Saudi Arabia. And one final tweet was “I would have died from the cold last night and my phone switched off. I am almost 20 hours at the border.” These tweets were going out to more than 200,000 followers of hers.
Hathloul wanted to do her bit to further the cause of lifting of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that does not allow them to drive. This ban has been enforced since 1957, but the move to get it lifted started in 1990 — when 47 women got behind the wheel in Riyadh in a symbolic show of force. Many of these women were professionals accompanied by their husbands who just switched seats as they drove their cars. The impetus for their action as claimed was the fact that they saw American women soldiers driving on Saudi soil as part of the American effort to get Saddam and Iraq out of Kuwait… see more