Screenshot from Arwa al-Neami’s video on Saudi women in an amusement park, Never Never Land.

Saudi Arabia’s government bans women from driving. But Saudi Arabia’s women have found a way around it: bumper cars.


The Wall Street Journal put up a report today interviewing a number of Saudi women at an amusement park’s busy ladies night at the bumper car rink. To some of the women, the bumper cars were just toys like they are anywhere else. But to others, this was their once chance at getting behind the wheel of a car, any car, and they weren’t going to waste it bumping into each other:

Some women viewed the bumper car for what it was: Amusement. “It’s just a game,” said Darin Twergi, a student, with a shrug. “It’s not that big a deal if I drive or not.”

Others regard time spent in a brightly colored open-top vehicle with a hot rod attached to the ceiling as a serious practice session.

Before she moved abroad for university, Sama bin Mahfooz said she would go to the theme park in Jeddah especially to drive. “We never get a chance to in Saudi Arabia—this is the right place to do it,” says Ms. bin Mahfooz, 20. “Whenever my best friend would hit me, I would tell her: ‘No, let me drive, let me drive!”

Many more women were happy about how much they could relax in these amusement parks, some staffed only by women, others with mixed genders but also a large curtain entirely surrounding the bumper cars rink. Saudi Arabia’s ban on driving is just a piece of the country’s strict, conservative laws. The amusement park and its driving is an escape from it all.


The driving ban is still unbelievably backwards, and it still stands as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince recently declared the country ‘not ready’ for women driving. Saudi Arabia’s women appear to disagree.