This is the first post of the ksa Q&A series.
Can women drive? (The answer is no). WHY NOT?? How do you cope?
Saudi Arabia is known, among other things, for being the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive. Why, you ask? Well I will not go into it too much as to why women can’t drive here. You can probably google that and read up on women’s rights according to Sharia laws and Islam customs which dictate life in Saudi Arabia. Some say that progress in other areas need to come first, things like voting rights, education and social equality and that the modern women of Saudi Arabia want a better future according to their traditions and values and not that of Western ideals. On the other hand, proponents of women driving have literally taken to the streets, in their cars, to show that the need to drive is very much clear and present.
As for how this affects the everyday life for female expats such as myself, yes it is a great inconvenience. You don’t know the joy of freedom until it is taken away from you. Going to the mall on a whim, pulling over because something caught your eye in a shop display, running out for milk and eggs on a Sunday morning… these are all things I miss doing dearly. However at the end of the day (like we say about many little inconveniences here), it is the country’s law and custom and as migrant workers we must accept it and deal with the challenges.
We all get around with taxis, drivers, and sometimes MFCs (male friends w/ cars). I am lucky to have two very trustworthy and reliable drivers, one who shows up diligently every morning to take me to work and that I pay a lot of money to, and one who takes me anywhere I want to go and never asks for anything in return except my love and cooking (<3). So life is not as difficult for me than say a single female who has to rely on drivers and often slimy taxi drivers. Most of us have got a list of numbers in our phones of good drivers that we know and trust. One becomes very good at calculating travel time and fares, and knowing it’s time to call your driver for pickup when dessert is served. So the answer is we deal with it, and after awhile it becomes a way of life and you learn to enjoy the joys of being able to sit back and read or instagram while someone else deals with the insane Riyadh traffic 😉