Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud has called for the kingdom to remove the ban on women driving in the country, saying it is hampering economic and social growth.
In a long-worded article titled “It is high-time that Saudi women started driving their cars” the businessman argued that the ban was an “infringement on a woman’s rights”.
حان وقت قيادة المرأة للسيارةhttps://t.co/BBgyF8i1Gs
Stop the debate:
Time for women to drivehttps://t.co/6KAniFa4BT
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) November 29, 2016
“Preventing a woman from driving a car is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” he said.
“They are all unjust acts by a traditional society, far more restrictive than what is lawfully allowed by the precepts of religion.”
Beyond a rights issue, it is also an economic, developmental and social problem, Prince Alwaleed argued.
With over one million women working in the country, many depend on foreign drivers, “an alternative that exacts a cost from the family’s income.”
According to average calculations, a family spends roughly SAR3,800 per month on a foreign driver, Prince Alwaleed said.
Hiring foreign drivers also “contributes to the syphoning of billions of riyal every year from the Saudi economy” through remittances, he said.
Using averages, he calculated that approximately SAR30bn is taken out of the Saudi economy every year because of remittances sent by drivers.
Allowing women to drive would also help the kingdom deport more than a million foreign drivers and also increase the employment of women.
Religiously as well, Prince Alwaleed insisted that there are no fatwas that find the act of driving to be haram.
The prince also suggested that certain conditions can be enforced if the ban on women driving is revoked. They include requiring women to carry smartphones, ensuring that they are acquainted with road assistance services, banning women from driving outside city limits and limiting their licences to drive cars.
“Having women drive has become an urgent social demand predicated upon by current economic circumstances,” he said.