Enthusiasm, Cartoons in Social Media as People React Female Drivers in Saudi Arabia
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Women in Saudi Arabia can legally get behind the wheel to drive for the first time in history after the country lifted its decades-long ban on women driving.
Saudis did not hide their enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel, as the first ten women holders of the Saudi driving license have started posting photos on social media in recent weeks, along with hashtags of #saudiwomendriving or #saudiwomencandrive.
Most of twitter users abroad and within the kingdom country, today, congratulated women of Saudi Arabia on their long-awaited win for driving rights, In which one of them wrote:
"Congratulation all Saudi women, Enjoy freedom era. #Saudi women took the wheel with much gusto after the decades-old ban on #women drivers was lifted yesterday. Curious to know what it took to get here?"
Meanwhile, some of the users were reluctant to believe the changes and questioned the women’s driving educations writing:
"If women driving in Saudi Arabia was illegal until today, how have all these women we are seeing in the media driving for the first time, managed to get any driving lessons?? Are they really just getting behind a wheel and hoping for the best!"
However, other images such as the cartoon above have been circulating in the social media since the beginning of June showing a Saudi-version of the US Statue of Liberty while holding a driving wheel as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a pro-US figure.
Female drivers are a tiny minority in Saudi Arabia, with many women saying they do not want to let go of their dream for fear of being harassed by men while driving. Moreover, the arrests of female activists have been multiplied before June 24 which was mediated internationally.
The move to end the ban on female drivers was part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to modernize and diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil. But advocates say these efforts are occurring alongside a crackdown on activists and as inequality between men and women persists in the country.
The end of the driving ban follows the arrests of 17 people in recent weeks. The Saudi public prosecutor’s office said eight of them, five women and three men, have been temporarily released. But human rights groups warn that several of those arrested remain in jail and that police targeted them for support of gender parity.
Some men also expressed quiet disapproval of a change they fear will undermine the kingdom’s deeply conservative identity.