Saudi women have been hitting the streets in flashy cars after the ban on driving got lifted earlier today. There were fathers who came to see their daughters head out for the first time ever and police officers who came prepared with flowers. All of them came to see Saudi women making history as the women started their engines right after midnight.
These women had already been granted licenses and were something of local celebrities in their districts. The action took place in the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah where women took out new cars they had bought and finally gave them a try. A lot of them cried with tears of joy as they understood they were part of a monumental change.
The men wanted to be part of the fun too! Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of KSA’s wealthiest men posted a video at midnight of himself with daughter Rim. She sat proudly at the wheel and seemed in full control of the situation. The Prince said, “Mummy is not driving a buggy, but a real car. Saudi Arabia has finally entered the 21st century.”
It seems the country is zooming right into modernity as they welcome back their very own professional race car driver, Aseel al-Hamad. She had been racing around on foreign tracks for a long time and had never actually driven on homeland. A part of the country’s motoring foundation, she announced her return with a proper debut event. It was done in partnership with a public relations company.
Aseel said, “I’ve always loved car toys. I had the privilege of driving race cars all over the world, but today will be the first in my beloved country. Driving the Jaguar F1 today was so emotional, it’s a very special moment.”
Today goes down in history, as the women of #SaudiArabia will start driving. Watch the video to see how I marked the occasion with @Jaguar and share your favourite driving memory using #WorldDrivingDay pic.twitter.com/u1LYxOn292
— ASEEL AL HAMAD (@ASEEL_ALHAMAD) June 23, 2018
Aseel wasn’t the only woman proud to be offering her country a service of some kind. Fadya Basma, a woman driver for a ride-sharing company, didn’t try to hide her excitement either. She was one of the first women in Saudi Arabia who had been driving men around because of her job. Fadya stated that she felt it was ‘a wonderful day’ and she knows ‘it will change things.’ She said, “Saudi will never be the same again.”
The country has been rocked by a wave of change and the government wants to control public sentiment. Aware that the lifting of this ban might change views about the historically conservative and rightist government, many consultancies have put out messages thanking the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, for his benevolence and leniency. All the happy uproar was captured on camera and people within as well as outside the country saw a great moment in history.
Agencies also released pictures of police officers offering bunches of flowers to elated women. These moments were carefully crafted to look genuine so the public would appreciate their government. However, there has been no information released about the number of actual driving licenses granted to women across the country. So far, about 30 women can legally drive while thousands have successfully applied for their permits. Women with international driving permits are being given priority for now.