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Tue 11 Mar 2014 12:26 PM

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Saudi businesswoman defies driving ban

Defiant protest was filmed to mark International Women’s Day and uploaded to Youtube

Saudi businesswoman defies driving ban
Saudi women, saudi women driving

A Saudi businesswoman and her husband have defied the kingdom’s female driving ban with the pair filming her driving in Al Khobar and uploading the clip to YouTube, it was reported.

According to Al Hayat newspaper, Aisha Al Manie, who drove the car for a few minutes to mark International Women’s Day, said: “banning women from driving is harmful. Muslims should stop harming other Muslims.”

Al Manie said while she could afford a driver, she was “driving in solidarity with other women”. She also revealed it was not the first time she had driven a car.

“I drove my car in an attempt to stop the harm against other women who could not have their own cars or recruit their own drivers," she was quoted as saying.

“Women are prevented from driving for no good reason. Women have been demanding this for more than 24 years.”

Al Manie was reportedly the first Saudi woman to obtain a doctorate, which she completed at Colorado University in 1980, and was also the first Saudi woman to be appointed a school principal. These days, she runs a family business.

Women are not permitted to drive in the highly conservative Gulf state, which practices an austere version of Wahabi Islam, despite there being no official law that prohibits this.

It is the only nation in the world that has such a ban in place.

In October, a number of female activists organised a nationwide day of defying the ban, with many posting video clips of themselves driving on YouTube.

Last month Saudi women campaigning to overturn the ban sent a letter to Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Asheikh urging him to consider their cause, it was reported.

The Grand Mufti reportedly said in November that the “objective behind not allowing women to drive is to protect society from evils”.