The Saudi Shoura council discusses women’s transport

According to the Shoura council there is an urgent need for the safe transport of women.
Apart from letting them drive themselves of course.
At the moment the only option for women who cannot, or do not want to employ a full time, unrelated, foreign driver, is to hire a taxi. About 75% of the passengers in Saudi taxis are female. They simply have no other option.

Dr. Mish’al Al-Ali, a member of the Shoura Council and chairman of the Petitions Committee, called on the government and the private sector to create a temporary system, which would replace payment of transportation allowances, to safely transport female employees to and from their jobs, Al-Hayat Arabic daily reported Friday.
A system of this nature would safeguard the female employees’ dignity and ensure they are not subjected to the taxi drivers’ monopolies, he added.
The permanent solution should be to provide a means of public transportation with precise schedules, similar to those in advanced countries, which suit the conservative nature of Saudi women and their social status.
He pointed out that many people in other countries use public transportation and they do not find anything wrong in doing so because it is up to the required standard.
The need for effective public transportation has increased as employment of women has grown, Dr. Al-Ali said.
“In implementation of the royal orders, large numbers of women have been employed in many government departments,” he said. “Women are enjoying their rights in getting employment and there are equal opportunities for women and men in all the government departments.”
Dr. Al-Ali said creating a means of public transportation needs “a vision and a feasibility study. After that we will find that the private sector will rush for these projects.”
Setting up an effective public transportation system would also address other problems such as traffic jams, he added.
Providing the transportation system does not need a detailed study, he said, but taking a decision and dealing with the issue pragmatically.
He also proposed that some government departments arrange with some companies owning taxis, minibuses and similar vehicles to transport female employees to and from their jobs and charge low fares.
“We need courageous, strong ideas that can be implemented on the ground,” Dr. Al-Ali stressed. “All the capabilities are easily available, but the problem is in not taking decisions at the right time and not dealing with the problem immediately.”
Dr. Hamad Al-Qadhi, another member of the Shoura Council, agreed that providing transportation for female employees has become a necessity.

Of course the simplest solution would be to let women drive their own cars. That way they would be safe, would not have to be in seclusion and at the mercy of  unrelated drivers, and no extra expensive complicated transport systems to move Saudi women according to their dignity would be needed.


Source: Saudi Gazette


30 Responses

  1. Re-enforcing gender segregation and marginalization of women are designed to relegate women to servitude status.

    The Shura Council serves no one’s interest other than its members and the system that installed it to deceive the public and the international community.

  2. your last paragraph summorised my sentiment about this backwards law.

  3. look at that pic — not 1 black abaya in sight yet they discuss stuff they have no experience about. Discussing a problem without even the affected parties present…sad

  4. Ditto Ali’s comment.

  5. They we’ll never ever allow female to drive because they think female driving will be more problematic and create more troubles due to the nature of the Saudi Society. Propose some public transport model that can be implemented in KSA.

  6. You lost me at “Apart from letting them drive themselves, of course.” 😦
    Will this never end? I agree with radhaa.

  7. “We need courageous, strong ideas that can be implemented on the ground,” Dr. Al-Ali stressed.

    How about letting women drive the cars they already own? No worry for traffic jams because that would mean getting rid of the foreign workers who currently drive those cars. No mixing between women and unrelated drivers. No need to spend money on what would likely by filthy, unreliable public transportation.

    But these options make entirely too much sense for implemenation is Saudi Arabia, which is apparenltly a country that is happy to not be included among those “advanced” societies.

    As is sit here in my living room with 2 cars outside that I am not allowed to drive, and with a driver going on vacation for 2 weeks as of today, it’s safe to say this miffs me quite a bit!

  8. not to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to drive of course but would they be really safe driving on their own given the accident and fatality rates on saudi roads?

  9. Almost a Muslimah – Are you serious? If the roads are not safe for women then they also are not safe for the men and even children that DO drive legally on them. Also, where is the difference to the roads if the woman is a passenger or a driver on these ‘deadly’ roads?

  10. What is the logic in not allowing women to drive themselves. There is non except that the male head of household knows where the women are. To me it is only a control factor not a safety factor.

  11. as soon as i hit ‘post’ button I realised that my comment can be taken in a wrong way.
    Saudi arabia has got the highest rate of road accidents and fatalities. Given that, it’s probably not ‘the safest’ idea to let women drive.
    I’m all supportive of Saudi women driving, absolutely! But I think it would be very useful to introduce more strict rules on the road for EVERYONE’s safety at the same time or beforehand. Apart from letting women drive, behaviour on the road must change.

    That’s what I meant 🙂

  12. How slowly the minds of men work. Fantastic that they have realised something needs to change, agonising that they cannot see the solution that is staring them in the face…

  13. Apart from the women should drive deal, i think PUBLIC transport is an exellent excellent idea for KSA. comendable since there are so many many people who cannot own a car .

  14. @ Dolores Walsh

    “What is the logic in not allowing women to drive themselves.”

    The Saudi theocratic and autocratic ruling elites’ survival depends on their ability to continue their policy and practice of divide and conquer.

    This draconian and myopic practice started in 1745 and will continue until “the last drop of the House of Saud” as stated by Saudi cleric Muhsen Al-Awajy, some years ago.

  15. SO MUCH emotional gymnastics to keep women off the roads. I think a public system is great for those that can’t afford a car, but all this separation stuff drains money that could be better put to use in allowing women to drive/giving lessons to ensure safe driving habits and giving men some classes on equality.

  16. Ali Alyami – So true, but oh so sad.

  17. I would wonder how would the public transportation work considering the idea of seperation of the sexes. Unless public transportation would be only for the woman. or one for male one for female?

  18. funny how a certain person states that “saudi traffic is too unsafe so women cant drive yet”, Hello! the fact that women dont drive doenst mean they dont get killed in the roads too! i will stil be as unsafe as it has ever been, in fact, it will take many 12 year old kids off the roads! kids that cant even reach the pedals propperly. of course ther eis a need for public transportation, but alsocontinuing with this obsession with segregating everything is so sick…

  19. We are in desperate need of more womens transport.

    But another thing i dont understand in Riyadh is why arent there any Zebra or Pedestrian crossings, my children and I almost get run over when trying to cross a busy road. Also, I think we need more bumps in the busy neighborhood roads.

  20. It is always a risk when attempting to cross Riyadh’s busy streets. For some reason the city is not set up for pedestrian crossings. I have seen a number of women and with children attempting to cross the streets around Al Fasiliyah and Al Memlika and your heart just goes to your throat since traffic does not stop for them.

    I am, however, optimistic, that transport options are changing…albeit very slowly. It is sad that segregation forces double of everything and in regards to transport, I’ve no doubt there would be women and/or family only cares and then single men cars. (cars referring to something like a metro)

  21. @Dalia – Is there a need for Zebra Crossing signs in Riyadh?

  22. crossing Olaya street in Riyadh is kind of like participating in the “bull run” in Spain..You have to run for your life to make it!

    Zebra crossings would make no difference. Drivers wouldn’t probably even know what they mean (a race track perhaps?) let alone care to allow pedestrians a peaceful crossing.

  23. I was thinking more on the lines of pedistrian crossings with traffic lights, (not just a black and white stripe) i obviously noticed that nobody will stop here for anyone, they would rather run you over.

    i was also thinking of crossing bridges over major roads.

  24. @Almost a Muslimah
    With women like you what need have we of biased men? Are you kidding? In what way am I safer as a passenger of an inexperienced driver- than driving my own self???
    Women are their own worst enemies sometimes. I have no more patience for it. Enough is enough. Don’t drive here if you don’t want to- but for many of us at this point it is “you are with us or against us”. There is no more middle ground.

  25. @Sandy

    nowhere did I say that women in Saudi should not drive! quite to the contrary, come on be fair.
    and I said that rules on the roads need to be introduced and enforced (preferably before) so that everyone can be safe driving. can you please tell me what’s so infuriating about it?
    as you rightly pointed out, you are no safer as a passenger and I absolutely agree.

  26. You connected the two issues. The two issues are completely separate. What does making it safer have to do with women driving? Of course things should be made safer for all. That should have been done years ago. But that has nothing to do with a woman being allowed to drive except it’s a typical excuse used for delay here. One I’ve been hearing for more than 20 years and yet nothing has changed and we’re still to wait for it to be “safer”. Well- it isn’t safe and I still want to drive.

  27. you are right Sandy. I inadvertently connected those two issues, my bad (can I be forgiven for learning my mistake? 🙂 ).
    I guess this part, with the emphasis on ‘safe’, confused me: “Of course the simplest solution would be to let women drive their own cars. That way they would be safe (…)”

    thanks Sandy!

  28. The other day one of our major intersections was having some road work done…this entailed turning off the traffic signals and putting up temporary stop signs on each of the 4 streets. So this major intersection had work going on causing a bit of confusion and there was no traffic police pointing the way…and yet all the cars were stopping and waiting for their turn. No jams, no horns honking, no impatient queue cutters…not a single car on the sidewalk trying to find a quicker path. My friend that is from Bahrain was visiting me and she was literally staring out the window with her mouth open. She asked me, why are they stopping without anyone telling them too. How can they be so patient like that? I told her…it only makes sense to follow the traffic rules and everyone gets out quicker…break the rules and you have a major traffic jam and nobody is going anywhere.

    Basically she is comparing it to Bahrain traffic. Such a set up would NEVER fly there. Nobody has the patience to wait their turn…everyone believes they are entitled to ignore the rules and do as they please…the traffic jams are monumental…the horn honking is defeaning…the fights between drivers are predictable.

    So no…zebra crossings in Saudi would never work. I find them much worse at obeying traffic rules than even Bahrainis. In fact, when Saudis go to Bahrain…Bahrainis are cursing THEM for ignoring traffic rules so blatantly. Go figure.

  29. @Almost a Muslimah-
    I could have said it nicer- sorry I was snarky. You inadvertently hit on one of the “reasons” they’ve been feeding us for years. I’m getting crotchedy about it- no doubt!

  30. that’s alright, I understand 🙂 i already made a mental note to phrase what I want to say in a better way and think twice before posting 🙂 but at least i learned sth 🙂

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