Saudi Prince says ban on women driving is draining their economy

Economy - Himanshu Gill - Dec 01,2016

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saudi prince says ban on women driving is draining their economy

The billionaire Saudi Prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, has called it a high time to lift the ban on women to drive cars in the country, saying that it is affecting the economy adversely.

The influential prince said that the matter is about women’s rights and lifting restrictions, as well as a matter of economic necessity for his country. Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia law and is the only country in the world that restricts women to drive any kind of automobile within the country. A large number of women’s rights activists have been arrested for challenging or defying this ban.

Prince Talal said that, there are a million women in Saudi who are seeking a safe means of transportation so that they can go to work every morning. Because of the law and limited options of fast public transport, women have to depend upon their male counterparts or hire male drivers (that are often foreign nationals) to travel, which could be regarded as a considerable expense.

Independent women drivers would have a better scope of punctuality and fluency at work, thus contributing more towards their respective firms and country’s economy as a whole. According to the prince, an average family spends an estimated amount of 3,800 riyals ($1,000) monthly on a driver, which drains a middle class family’s income. He also added that, retaining foreign drivers also causes an outflow of billions of riyals every year from Saudi economy to other countries in the form of remittances.

The law banning women drivers was issued in 1990 by the chairman of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Sheikh Abd al-Aziz bin Baz, saying that women drivers lead to many evils and negative consequences. Women in Saudi also aren’t allowed to travel, marry and in many cases get a job or education without the permission of a male guardian. They were granted the right to vote for the first time in December 2015.