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Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal calls on Saudi to allow women to drive

Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal has ended his silence on the topic of the kingdom's ban on female drivers calling on the government to allow women to get behind the wheel.

The prince tweeted "Stop the debate: time for women to drive" yesterday adding a link to a letter posted on his website.

In it Bin Talal wrote: "It is high time that Saudi women started driving their cars… When Saudi girls ventured into the world of education half a century ago, some people saw it as the beginning of a progression …. There were others who objected."

"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. They are all unjust acts by a traditional society."

He added: "Such a ban on driving is fundamentally an infringement on a woman's rights."

He justified his reasoning by assessing the financial, social, religious and political factors of allowing women to drive. He insisted that allowing women to drive will strengthen the Saudi economy as it would mean households would be less likely to hire foreign drivers who export their wages abroad.

He also condemned the religious decrees, fatwas, justifying the ban on women drivers and said that they are "a product of their time" and "they reflect the traditional disposition to fear and reject new social developments".

He also questioned the safety of women when they are being driven around by strange men rather than being in control of their own car.

He did however add "restrictions and conditions" to his suggestions, including that women should be required to "carry smartphones to be used when needed",  be banned "from driving outside city limits" and that they only be allowed to drive cars.

Middle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
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