Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed has voiced his support for women to be allowed to drive in the country.
The Kingdom Holding chairman wrote on his twitter account on Sunday: "The question of allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia will save more than 500,000 jobs in addition to the social and economic benefits."
While there is no written law that specifically bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia, senior government clerics have issued several religious edicts that prohibit women from driving.
Last year around 600 Saudis petitioned Saudi’s King Abdullah to allow women to drive in the kingdom, a year after a group of women’s-rights activists launched the Women2Drive campaign.
Signatures on the petition, which called for the Gulf state to establish driving schools and issue driving licences, included Manal Al Sharif, founder of the Women2Drive movement, said AFP.
The petition asked to “encourage women who have obtained driving licences from neighbouring countries to begin driving whenever necessary” and “establish driving schools for women and [begin] issuing licences,” said the newswire.
The wife of Prince Alwaleed year also spoke out two years ago in support of women lobbying to overturn the kingdom’s ban on female drivers.
Speaking to the Today Show, Princess Ameerah Al Taweel said allowing women to drive is one in a list of reforms that must be addressed in Saudi Arabia. “We’re fighting for our rights and we are getting them. If we were not getting them, you would not see me talking to you now,” she said.
Asked if she wants to be the first woman to drive legally in the kingdom, Princess Ameerah said “Yes. [But] for me, I don’t care if I am the first or the 60th, as long as we drive. It’s a social need but looking at the other side, there are priorities for us women here in Saudi other than driving. We care about laws for women, women in the workforce – basic rights.”
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