100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Loujain Al Hathloul
21

Loujain Al Hathloul

Industry: Culture and society

Designation: Activist

Country: Saudi Arabia

Country of origin: @LoujainHathloul

Loujain Al Hathloul made headlines last October when she was arrested for flouting a ban against women driving in Saudi Arabia. The 25-year-old Saudi national was arrested when she attempted to drive from the UAE into the kingdom and her friend, Maysaa Al Amoudi, 33, was detained when she went to the border to support her. The pair was reportedly referred to the terrorism court because of their posts on social media. Al Hathloul has a phenomenal following — 242,000 Twitter followers, and, at the time, 92,000 on Instagram and 670,000 on Canadian social networking site Keek — and had been tweeting about her journey before the arrest. The women were released in February and Al Hathloul has won admirers for her outspoken non-conformist views.

An anonymous post on the blog Saudiwoman.me states: “Being an individual in Saudi is a ginormous [sic] feat that has surprisingly been accomplished by a young lady, Loujain Al Houthloul.” Even before her arrest she had caused a commotion by posting a video on Keek in 2013 showing her with her face and hair uncovered. On the video, she addressed the fact openly by insisting that she wouldn’t ever cover. The video went viral and had such a huge impact that she has since deleted it from her Keek page, but it can still be viewed on YouTube.