Saudi Arabia allows women behind the wheel
Women in Saudi Arabia will in future be allowed to drive unaccompanied, King Salman has ordered by decree. The Islamic kingdom was the only country in the world in which women did not enjoy this right - although they broke the law more or less openly in many places. Journalists hope the king's decision will be followed by further reforms.
A breath of freedom
It's a day of rejoicing for women in Saudi Arabi, Middle East expert Agnieszka Zagner writes in her blog on Polityka.pl:
“Until now men in Saudi Arabia knew what was best for women. That driving cars was bad for the ovaries. That women behind the wheel meant the ruin of the traditional family. That women's dignity was protected with the driving ban. (Because what happens if there's an accident and the woman needs first aid?) Finally there's an end to all of that. Women can breathe freely once more! ... This is an important day for Saudi women. Nevertheless we should not forget that they are still not free. That's clear for example from the fact that they are still not alllowed to wear skirts or ride bikes. Not yet.”
No progress without women
Oil revenues no longer finance the Saudi welfare state, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explains:
“That's why Bin Salman wants to make the country independent of oil and introduce social changes through economic reforms. And women are to play a role here. For years more women than men have graduated from universities; in future they won't just be driving, they'll also be gainfully employed. 'Vision 2030' is finally reducing the backlog of reforms and pushing the Faustian pact with the Wahhabi clergy further into the background. ... It's in the interests of the West that this difficult transition is successful. Because if the reform programme fails, Saudi Arabia too will fail, and with it the only remaining power that can impose order in the Middle East.”