By IZABELLA FELPETO
As of Tuesday, Sept. 26, Prince Muhammad bin Salman lifted the ban on women driving in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“This is the right time to do the right thing,” he said to American reporters.
Not only has the young Prince challenged social order by lifting this ban but, on Sept. 23, the country’s National Day; women were allowed to present themselves in the Riyadh stadium for the first time. His promises to Saudi Arabia’s youth, which make up about 70 percent of the country, have posed a threat to the traditional religious views of the Islamic religion.
His efforts to banish conservatism have been publicly critiqued, especially, on social media. Hours after the news was released, “the women of my house will not drive” quickly became the most popular Twitter hashtag in Saudi Arabia.
Beginning June 17, 2018, all women have the right to get behind the wheel and obtain a driver’s license, with permission of a male guardian.
This victory has not been easy as confirmed by many Saudi women activists who have fought hard against female oppression in the country. Manal al Shariff, who has a history of charges for “driving while female,” shed tears after hearing this and said “Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.”
The driving restriction can improve the country’s economic state. With limited transport, it is difficult for women to commute to work unless they have a car service, which can be expensive. The other option would be to travel with a male guardian. However, some Islamic extremists still argue that driving could affect a woman’s fertility by harming her ovaries.
In celebration, women have posted photos and videos on social media of them driving. Madeha al Ajroush, a proud Saudi woman, tweeted: “The will for women to drive has finally come. We Saudi women has the freedom of mobility.”