Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women behind the wheel

World Today

Saudi women are hitting the gas now that they are allowed to drive. Some are even doing so on the race-track. A Saudi businesswoman drove a Formula 1 car around a course in full view of the public.

But as CGTN’s Quan Chenchen reports, most women will be taking it a bit slower.

For over half a century, women in Saudi Arabia have been banned from driving and getting a driver’s license.

Now a few of them are in the driver’s seat – a historic moment that’s long overdue.

“It feels weird, I’m so happy,” said female motorist Majdooleen al-Ateeq. “There’s no words can explain what I’m feeling right now. I’m just too proud to be doing this right now.”

“So all I can think about, I can still do my own stuff, I don’t have to ask for anyone to take me around. That’s very important you know.”

In a country that is dominated by men, this was unimaginable for older generations.

According to Fawzia al-Bakr, Majdooleen’s aunt, “It’s so natural for her to drive and to get the insurance and everything when it was extremely difficult for us in 1990. So I’m thrilled, I am so happy that our society and our leaders reached this point where we’re driving. It just makes you feel so natural, just like any other woman around the world.”

There are still limits on what Saudi women can do, but people say society is beginning to change.

“I feel proud, I am really proud that the country has moved to another stage,” said one Saudi man.

Despite this apparent victory for women activists, many of those same activists are now in prison.

The fight for women’s rights is far from over.