Saudi Arabia: Will Women Really be able to Ride Bikes?

bike riding


It’s making all the local (and some international) headlines that the Ministry for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (aka Muttawa or Religious Police) may lift the existing ban which prohibits women from riding motorcycles or bikes.  However, don’t hold your breath for there are a lot of caveats with the lifting of the ban.  Women could only ride a bike or motorcycle for “recreational purposes” and only in restricted recreational areas.  They must not ride the transport where they could cross the path of young men who would try to harass them.

So while the headlines may sound like a milestone in actually this is what has been in existence for quite some time; any female who rides a bike or motorcycle only does so in a restricted area.

Let’s think about it…how could a woman ride a bike or motorcycle in any kind of a public area wearing a long abaya?  That would be foolhardy.  It is sad that a ban could not be lifted that truly benefits a woman and allows her a form of conveyance (without the fear of harassment by a man) that she could utilize for transportation rather than pay for a driver or depend on a male family member.

What do you think?  Is this a milestone or a big to do about nothing?


8 Responses

  1. A big nothing. It is not about modesty since males will find females attractive no matter what they are wearing. If they are covered in bags, the boys will still be attracted, perhaps even more so. At this point I don’t know if it is about control or just an unwillingness to seem weak by not opposing change.

    Traditional Arab dress is simply not made for bicycles. Even the clothes most people wore 60 years ago in the US weren’t made for bicycles. When I was a child, I know that more than once my pants were caught in the bicycle chain. If Saudis are going to continue to live in an industrialized society there habits and clothes will change. It has almost nothing to do with either Islam or the West. It is about urbanized living.

  2. …their habits…

  3. Deceptions and misleading gestures work in places where helplessness and hopelessness rule. like the 2005 municipal elections and the appointment of carefully selected 30 women to the useless consultative council, allowing riding bicycle is in other step to make the system looks nice and to re-enforce social stagnation.

  4. Sorry but this whole crap is much ado about nothing!! I see problems every which way.

    One can imagine a lot of hijabs/burkas getting caught in the spokes/chains strangling the rider … will of allah, of course :)- Also, what if she falls and her ankle shows or something? Does it mean “rape”, because she was asking for it and then buried to her shoulders and stoned to death for being raped.

    Wow, that’s progress …. sounds like a program destined for success :)-

  5. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Hai’a) has denied issuing any statement allowing women to ride bicycles.

    The Hai’a said it has never issued any directive or circular to its personnel on this subject.

    It said personnel receive instructions and directives from their superiors through clear and regulated mechanisms.

    The commission called on the media to contact official sources whenever they wanted to know something concerning the public.

    The commission said it has opened all communications channels so it can answer queries by the media and ensure information is precise and reaches the public quickly.

  6. I dont really care about the problems of riding with long cloaks, they’ll get around it or come up with something feasable, we are a adaptable lot, what gets me is the statement – “They must not ride the transport where they could cross the path of young men who would try to harass them.” .

    — why blame and restrict the victim??? how about controling the perpetuators of the crime/ harassement.??
    patriarchy at work i assume..

  7. I think this story started as an April Fool satire. Anyway- women already ride on the dune bikes out of the city.

  8. I’m trying to envision women who just simply want to travel independently. I agree that the long robe matter is a bit of a red herring.

    Are men afraid of women venturing out further….and never come back? 😀

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