Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud is a lot of names for one guy, but this one guy is a Saudi prince, the 41st richest person in the world, and was called the “Arabian Warren Buffet” by Time. And now the Prince is saying that Saudi Arabia needs to wise up and let women drive. So get with it, Saudi Arabia.
Here’s exactly what he said, right from his own twitter feed:
Yeah, you tell ‘em, Al-Waleed. It’s important to remember that Saudi Arabia is the only country on Earth and in the known universe where women are forbidden from driving. That’s embarrassing, backwards, and long, long overdue to be eliminated. Al-Waleed followed up his tweet with a far more in-depth discussion on his personal website, which, for some reason, is a scan of a letter instead of actual text. Whatever, the point is the same.
Just imagine not being allowed to drive by your government just because of you have a matching pair of chromosomes. Fuck that.
In the letter, Al-Waleed makes some detailed arguments for why women should have the right to drive. While this doesn’t even seem like a question that needs to be argued for most of us, the Prince has to convince a resistant audience, so he covers financial, economic, political, and social factors, as well as addressing the religious concerns.
He points out that money is being spent on foreign drivers, which pulls money out of the Saudi economy, money that could be spent employing Saudi women to become personal drivers and taxi drivers if they wish, where they could drive other women who cannot yet drive.
He also makes the point that there’s a real necessity here, since Saudi Arabi has no real public transportation system to speak of, especially in more rural areas.
He does offer some restrictions to make the granting of driving rights to women more palatable to those dinosaurs who still don’t get it:
• Requiring them to carry smartphones to be used when needed
• Ensuring that they are acquainted with available road assistance services in case of a car break-down
• Banning them from driving outside city limits
• Limiting the licenses to driving cars
While no restrictions at all would be vastly better, this is still better than how it is today. Some of these are also great incentives to spark the development of a community of women gearheads who don’t feel like waiting for the SAAA truck (or whatever they call them there) to change their tire.
Everyone should have the right to drive. Everyone. Cars, generally, don’t care or even check what sort of genitals you have when you plop into the driver’s seat, and that’s how it should be. It’s dismaying and repulsive that this conversation even needs to be had.
Here’s hoping the Saudis finally do the right thing this time. Just to punctuate the point, here’s an alternate video of Saudi women breaking the driving ban set to M.I.A.’s song Bad Girls which I just now learned was done to support the Saudi women’s driving movement: