Saudi broadcaster Samar Fatany: ‘The right for women to drive is essential’
June 24 marks a momentous day in the history of Saudi Arabia as women are officially allowed to get behind the wheel after a decades-old driving ban was lifted.
AMEinfo speaks to Samar Fatany, Jeddah-based broadcaster, and author, about the economic and social impact of this historic move. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society.
What is your feeling? Are you feeling excited and more empowered?
Yes, I am feeling excited. This move will certainly open new avenues for Saudi women. As far as empowering women is concerned, it will have a very positive effect. The right to drive right is essential; it gives both men and women a choice – to drive or not to drive.
I must say that it’s a very serious step toward the normalization of life with both genders playing equal roles in society. Eventually, it will also enhance safe driving on roads.
How will this new initiative impact the social fabric of Saudi Arabia in the coming years?
The right to drive gives women more mobility and empowers them to go on with their lives. This allows them to come out of four walls and try their hands in various other fields that were earlier considered only male-dominated. In the long run, this will decrease their dependence on relatives to do their daily chores.
Besides, it will also have a very deep social impact on the society. Here we should keep in mind that there are many single mothers and other independent women who are playing a constructive role in the building of society. With this right to drive, no longer they will be hampered in their lives. They can act more independently now on.
With this new rule comes, huge responsibility and authorities need to be very cautious to ensure smooth implementation of the new regulation, especially because many women will be going to drive for the first time in their life. What is your opinion on this?
The Saudi authorities are going to implement stringent laws to avoid both traffic and social mishaps. I am sure that all sections of the society will act responsibly to ensure this initiative becomes a huge success. I must say it’s a great leap forward and all credit should be given to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for this bold act.
Do you look at driving right as a mere luxury?
Driving is not only a luxury but this right is also important for economic prosperity. In the absence of a sound mobile transport system, it’s vital to have women making a choice. Yes, this is true that not all women will start driving immediately but it’s a start. And we all are hoping for very good results in the coming months.