Saudi women can fly now but one thing could keep them grounded

January 30, 2018 2:05 pm


Saudi women have more reasons to celebrate today than ever before.

Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s  Vision 2030 gives more freedom to women.

They are essentially freer to express their minds, to move around and celebrate the future, even without a male presence shadowing their every move.

A recent report by Arab News reveals that Saudi parties to celebrate divorces have become a trend.

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“The stigma following women in Saudi Arabia whose marriages have ended has been, for the most part, eradicated, and the divorce rate rose marginally in 2017,” it said.

This open and free expressions has not yet reached western proportions and as such certain things are better kept secret.

Hush-Hush driving lessons

Women in the kingdom are very excited about the new move that they have started taking secret driving lessons in the desert.

Driving centres are due to open from March, but women eager to start learning are already making secret trips to the desert, according to the Telegraph.

“I am not worried about being caught, you just have to pick places the government won’t feel threatened or disobeyed,” Rania, who asked that her surname not be published, told the Telegraph. “Anyway, I’ve been waiting too long to waste another minute.”

The only place women are currently allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia is around go-kart racing tracks.

“I love coming here because it’s allowing me to prepare for June when I’m finally gonna be able to drive on the roads” Waad, a young woman who grew up in the country, told ABC News at the go-kart track.

Showroom curves

Saudi women now have their own car shows.

The first of these opened on January 11, and Saudi sales ladies were seen informing and assisting potential customers.

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According to media reports, the exhibition was held at Le Mall in Jeddah and focused on fuel-efficient cars.

According to Vogue Arabia, a fashion magazine, the new showroom features a wide range of vehicles, and also offers women solutions to finance their new purchases, making it easier for Saudi women to transition onto the road once the decree officially comes into effect in June.

“It is known that women are the largest section who shops in malls,” Sharifa Mohammad, the heads the exhibition’s saleswomen, was quoted as saying by Reuters. “This whole mall is run by women anyway. All the cashiers are women. Everyone in the restaurants are women.”

While selling in a male dominated sector is a big achievement for Saudi women, what they can do next takes the issue to new heights.

The Sky’s the limit

Saudi women now have the chance to fly.

Eqbal Darandari, a female member of the Saudi Shura Council, was quoted in the Washington Post saying that allowing women into aviation would be an important step in realizing the kingdom’s goal to “increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.

“Saudi women have already proven their worth in the aviation spectrum, and we’ve seen Saudi women piloting aircraft outside the Kingdom; now it’s time for the [Saudi aviation authority] to take the initiative,” she said. “Saudi women deserve to find work in their own country.”

Saudi women could fly but they can’t open a bank account?

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You have no funds

Saudi women are still not allowed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to open bank accounts of their own or for their children.

UK daily the Independent said in September 2017 that while there are now a few jobs women in the Kingdom are allowed to do without male permission, they are not allowed to have their own bank account to control their finances.

Also according to a study published by the Saudi Gazette, “If a married mother decides to open a bank account for her children, she must bring her husband or the court’s consent, being her guardian, as if her existence as a mother has no value.”

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Dana Halawi
By Dana Halawi
Senior Journalist
Dana Halawi has over seven years of experience in Journalism with articles published in multiple magazines and a newspaper in Lebanon. She specialized in Banking and Finance at the Lebanese American University and has a Master’s degree in International Affairs.



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