Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to ban women from getting behind the wheel or handlebars. A recent historic decision sees Saudi women allowed to ride motorcycles – to drive cars, including trucks. Seems like Saudi Arabia is swiftly moving towards giving its women the rights they’ve needed for a long time. Three months after King Salman issued a decree saying women will be able to drive as of this coming June, as part of an ambitious reform push in the conservative kingdom. Many say that this represents a huge start for independence for Saudi women and for motorcycling for women.
However, Saudi women are not out of the woods as under the new order women will still need permission of a male relative to obtain licences. Neither Islāmic law nor Saudi traffic law had explicitly prohibited Saudi women to ride motorcycles or drive, but they were not issued licences and were detained if they attempted to drive. Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women. Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member — normally the father, husband or brother — must even grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.
The reform comes as part of the kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, a post-oil economy plan under which the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.
The Saudi General Directorate of Traffic gave details of the new regulations that will follow the lifting of the ban on the official Saudi Press, stating that yes, women will be authorised to drive motorcycles – as well as cars and trucks. Adding that the royal decree stipulates that the law on driving will be “equal” for both men and women. This means that there will be no special licence plate numbers for female-driven vehicles either. However, women involved in road accidents or who commit traffic violations will be dealt with at special centres run by women.
Country Prepares to Lift Ban On Women Driving. Saudi women are dreaming about the motorcycles they’ll be riding – and the cars or trucks they’ll be driving.
It’s historic decision to allow women to drive motorcycles and has been cheered inside the kingdom and abroad – after decades of resistance from female activists, many of whom were jailed for flouting the ban.
Above is Maryam Ahmed Al-Moalem pictured during lessons at the Harley-Davidson training centre in Manama, Bahrain recently. Maryam went to a neighbouring country to start training to be prepared when the ban lifts in June. She hopes to be among the first women to drive a motorcycle, in her country. (*Source Reuters)
We are thrilled at the news represents for women on motorcycling in Saudi Arabia and expect to add women motorcycle riders of Saudi Arabia to the list of cultures and countries participation for International Female Ride Day.