The Queens of Saudi Arabia Need to Drive

I’ve been silent for a while about my pet peeve subject..women driving..or women NOT driving. My last tongue in cheek take on it was about the driving campaign organized on the 26th of October 2013. Read about it in this post: “26th October, The Day the World Almost Came to an End“.

I recently came across a Saudi photographer Areej Adel’s work regarding the women driving and was just fascinated how well she captured the feeling of being “stuck” in the back seat..I’ve attached some of Areej’s photographs from her series “A Queen, But..” on this post. Her images stirred up a lot of feelings about this topic and I found myself writing yet another post (satirical rant) about it..Just as I had another very serious experience with my asthmatic son who is 2 years old and had a severe asthma attack while I was home alone with my kids. I was not able to take him to the hospital immediately since I have no driver, and there are no taxis available to hail down from street in my area ( diplomatic quarter). For a moment, I thought he would die in my hands. I do not wish that feeling on anyone. That incident really triggered me to write this post.

And who am I kidding here? The women (not) driving issue is one of the most, if not THE most debilitating, humiliating, oppressing and life quality-diminishing aspect of living as a female in Saudi Arabia. So this is personal, ya’ll.

And I know I’m not alone. There are thousands of men and women, Saudi and non-Saudi residents, who are fed up and want change.

Really. Enough is enough. It’s 2014.

Women need to start driving yesterday. We need to take our kids to school. We need to go to work, meetings and doctors appointments.

We need to have this basic human right NOW.

We are tired of being forced to rely on the unreliable drivers. We are fed up with taxi drivers that treat us like dirt.

We are really sick and tired of the perverts that cohabit that tiny space with us, and we have no other choice of getting to where we NEED to go but to deal with it.

We are done dealing with drivers lying, yelling or cursing at us. Not picking up their phones or showing up, leaving us in trouble. How many women have been dumped in the middle of roads because the driver had a bad day? If we found the rare gem driver who actually knows AND follows the traffic rules, he for sure will not be following our directions or wishes. Why? Because knows he has that power over us. And he will take full advantage of it.

How many women have been stuck at home with a sick kid, waiting for a driver for what seems to be forever? Worse yet if there’s a medical emergency? The despair and feeling of complete helplessness is unfathomable.

Only women living in Saudi Arabia will know exactly how utterly frustrating it is, seeing that little boy driving a car right beside us. While we are sitting in a car which we would be fully licensed, capable and WILLING to drive, yet find ourselves hurdled in the backseat, behind the blackened windows, feeling almost as if we don’t even exist.


"I Don

“I Don’t Like the Backseat”
© AREEJ ADEL photography

For crying out loud how does a male sexual organ license a person to drive?

It doesn’t matter if you’re underaged, heck even a kid.

No need for a driving license either. Everyone knows males were born licensed.

Driving skills? Who needs them if you’ve got the right chromosome! That means you have natural talent.

How about owning a car, valid international driver’s license and maybe even an exceptionally clean driving record? Nope ,they will not guarantee you can drive, if you lack that certain extra asset.


How did it become Islamically acceptable anyway, that this unrelated male, basically a stranger, that doesn’t even share a common language with us, who doesn’t even have a valid driver’s license from his country of origin, let alone a local one, is driving us around, among thousands other unskilled drivers such as him?

How on earth did this become the ‘safest’ option?

Is this not totally absurd?

Is this how Queens are treated, really? 

If women in Saudi Arabia are treated like the Queens they say we are, then why are we, more often than not, spoken to and treated like children?

Queens have power. Queens are respected. A Queen’s word is the last word.

I have the feeling there are no real Queens in Saudi Arabia. Only Princesses, driven around in carriages, that’s all. The elite 5% of the princesses might be lucky to have a golden carriage and a knight in shining armor driving it, but the rest of us pheasants are stuck with the pumpkins and trolls.

And then we have these nay sayers, telling us that allowing women to drive on the Saudi roads will cause problems such as, more cars on the roads, more traffic congestion.

Well here’s a simple math lesson for you:

Driver takes woman to work in the morning, drives car back home. Goes again in the afternoon to pick up woman from work, drives her home. In the evening driver takes woman to her parents house, goes back home. Comes late in the evening to pick up woman, drives her home again.

TOTAL= 8 car rides.


Woman drives to work in the morning. Drives home in afternoon. Drives to parents house. Stays a couple of hours, drives herself back home.

TOTAL= 4 car rides.

See? It’s actually the other way around, dummies!

And that’s just one hypothetical situation, it could be even more rides back and forth with the driver.

How about the type of guy I mentioned at the beginning of this post? That guy who wants to keep his jewels protected? He doesn’t want women to drive nor will he allow his female relatives to drive themselves because…

The Saudi roads are SO dangerous! How could she possibly drive among those crazy, bad drivers?

YES indeed! Those EXACT same crazy and/or unlicensed drivers and dangerous roads where she is currently riding on, in the passenger seat.

How the heck is that different? Same traffic, roads and same crazy drivers! Actually, if women were driving on the roads, I bet you they would be far less crazy, less congested and less ridden with accidents.

Whoever came up with this genius excuse deserves the Nobel prize for Illogicality.

My dream is to drive on this beautiful desert road one day..

Desert treks

Check out the amazing Photography by a talented Saudi photographer Areej Adel, her series “A Queen But…” is visually powerful and thought provoking.

She says on her website about the Saudi Queens:

A Queen, But…” series tells a story of Queen who views the crown as a symbol of her power, and the suggestion that everything is under control of the crown. This Queen in fact is powerless and is treated like juvenile. In this series, you can capture the irony of how this “Queen” is perceived by herself and others. Sometime she feels her situation is perfectly acceptable and doesn’t understands that her rights are being suppressed, but in her depth she always knows there is something wrong in her life.”






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Hello there, I’m Laura, the author of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. I’ve been traveling around and exploring Saudi Arabia since 2008.
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  • Karen BremnerOctober 13, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    I have just arrived in Kingdom and one of the things I am most glad about is that I am not able to drive. The roads are crazy and the lack of driving skills is terrifying. Surely a driving test and legal age limit is the first step before women get behind the wheel.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:46 pm

      Karen if you just arrived in the Kingdom maybe it’s better to settle and see what things look like after a while. Also, maybe it’s just a typo in your comment but saying “I’m glad about not being able to drive”. Not be able to do something can never be good, but choice is good. I think you meant “I’m glad that I have the option not to drive here, because the crazy roads scare me, but if a fellow woman wants to, she should have the right,just like all those crazy drivers do.” :)ReplyCancel

  • RawyahOctober 13, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    I agree 100%.
    We need to drive. We need to have the choice to drive or have a driver. I am so tired of having to reschedule my appointments because the driver is not available or busy or tired or not in the mood. I feel guilty that every time my husband comes home from a long day of work, I have to ask him to go out again because he is the only one the law allows to touch the steering wheel. I feel angry and frustrated when other women I talk to about this issue argue that having a man is safer or more feminine! The worst arguments I had about this issue were never with men. No they were reasonable in their discussions and many are supportive. But the women were the worst! It was shocking how they were welling to look down on other women who support the issue and call them “Liberal” or “westernized” or “shameless” or worse.

    I believe that the issue has been dragged on for this long, not because of religious or social reasons, but because “THEY” want the people to stay busy arguing with each other. There were many cases in which “THEY” ignored social and religious opinions and did what “THEY” like or saw beneficial. So we the citizens will keep arguing. THEY will keep listening and watching and waiting. And once it is decided what is best and beneficial to THEM then THEY will ignore all other opinions and do what THEY like..

    I hope the Magic Internet Fairy does not block your site Layla for this comment :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:37 pm

      I guess the question is then, how do we convince “THEM”that allowing women to drive will be beneficial for “THEM”? What can THEY gain? The mother of all
      Questions. If anyone knows, please type it here. Maybe THEY really are listening ;)ReplyCancel

    • DaniatOctober 20, 2014 - 1:44 am

      Who is THEY?

      Someone please tell me??

      The police? I mean the Saudi religious police is what you are talking about???ReplyCancel

      • RawyahOctober 20, 2014 - 12:36 pm

        THEY = the ones who want to keep people busy and arguing so that that they won’t pay attention to the real important matters.
        And no they are not the religious police or the police but the ones who pay them their salaries :)

        * This is my own personal conclusionReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 21, 2014 - 12:22 am

          THEY = “The Others” lol have you seen that movie Rawyah?ReplyCancel

    • MinaNovember 22, 2014 - 6:46 pm

      I think when the prophet SAAS did not forbid me to go about my needs and I have permission islamically to do so what would a person care what others think of him ,her.I think the way we have to think needs to be beneficial to society.They want to prevent their women from anything: rumours ,bad image in society and other issues.Just we need to follow the islamic way and not the any extreme form of thinking.When we prevent our children from any experience in life when they go to other country to study they will be overwhelmed or they will commit any sins because they were so sheltered.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn GrabonOctober 13, 2014 - 10:25 pm

    Just do it! Stop talking about it and just do it! How many women per day can they actually arrest if every woman who wishes to drive gets behind the wheel every day!?! Just do it!ReplyCancel

  • Marvin ZeidanOctober 13, 2014 - 11:13 pm

    Women’s Right to Drive

    Everyone needs to help on spreading this quickly before the site is blocked by “the internet fairy”. A 1-2 minute video on why women should drive… any reason…

    My experience is that it’s better than having an 11 (maximum!) year old boy having to drive his mom and sisters to the pharmacy while creating havoc and endangering others’ lives because he can’t see the road and has to drive standing up… true story from this last Friday I kid you not… and he drove past at least 1 cop as I saw it.

    What about the economics of it?

    How many drivers sending millions back home out of the country each month… a quick calculation by any estimate shows a ridiculous economic leakage of funds that could otherwise be in women’s pockets spent in the local economy… not to benefit the government as it doesn’t need it but for the benefit of local businesses.

    Not to mention the jobs that women can’t can’t take because financing a car and paying a driver could mean that they end up paying out of their pocket to cover the costs while most want to work cause they need the money…

    Women & children’s safety from driver abuse. With no real address system ambulances can’t save men’s lives… I can go on..

    There, 5 reasons and I can think of a few more… I’m sure you can come up with at least one…ReplyCancel

  • RexOctober 13, 2014 - 11:17 pm

    Thought provoking and honest article. Just about said it all on Saudi women driving. Would you allow this to be reposted? I can’t seem to find the reblog option or copy the text. Thank youReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:39 pm

      Thank you! I need to disable the right click for this page or then I could email it to you?ReplyCancel

      • RexOctober 20, 2014 - 1:42 am

        If you don’t mind sending it over through email.

  • MarvinOctober 14, 2014 - 2:16 am

    What about the economics of it?

    How many drivers sending millions back home out of the country each month… a quick calculation by any estimate shows a ridiculous economic leakage of funds that could otherwise be in women’s pockets spent in the local economy… not to benefit the government as it doesn’t need it but for the benefit of local businesses.

    Not to mention the jobs that women can’t can’t take because financing a car and paying a driver could mean that they end up paying out of their pocket to cover the costs while most want to work cause they need the money…ReplyCancel

    • carlOctober 14, 2014 - 8:01 pm

      i read them all, and the post about the $$$$$ going out the country is the most compelling. $$$$ is how you talk to a man. we don’t understand much else. SorryReplyCancel

      • carlOctober 14, 2014 - 8:04 pm

        ill check yo see if my post was posted it… buttt i guess this site has a fairy of it’s own..

        Your comment will be published after moderationReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 15, 2014 - 1:33 pm

          tbh i didn’t quite understand what you meant by the comment, can you please elaborate, Carl?ReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:51 pm

          Rude and hateful comments and personal attacks will not be published by the Blueabaya fairy :)ReplyCancel

      • RawyahOctober 17, 2014 - 2:53 am

        Hi Carl,

        Saudi men don’t think this way. Actually Many non Saudi’s don’t think this way too.
        I met a Kuwaiti once who told me that she and her whole extended family and most people in their area don’t drive but rather have drivers.
        I met a girl from UAE who told me that she and her mother drive but still have a driver for the kids and other errands that require manly stuff. what I got is that she sees having a driver on demand is part of the prestige.

        As a Saudi woman, when talking to Saudi men, they rather pay the $$$$ than see their wives filling the tank, or loading and unloading groceries, or taking out the trash or changing a tire or facing car problems. These issues must be taken care of by a man. Many women share these ideas too and believe they need a man around to do these things when their husbands are not available. If the woman took out the trash for example, everyone will look down on the husband and accuse him of not taking care of his family.
        It is a different way of thinking. And it needs to be approached by someone who understand the our very protective culture.ReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:38 pm

          Thanks for replying to Carl, Rawyah.
          I still don’t get his comment and all the $$$$ :)ReplyCancel

        • MinaNovember 22, 2014 - 6:36 pm

          Hi Rawiah,I am an expat in Riyadh SA and live in an area that is more international but has saudis also.I go to the shop by foot and my husband too.Is that normal?I mean I walk a lot and sometimes alone because my husband feels tired from work and I am used to in my country to walk and the store is not far I carry my bag back home.Is that something unnatural in saudi to see?I do wear abaya and hijab.I don’t like to live inactive always driven or stopping walking will kill me ,it’s lack of moving so try to walk a lot!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:54 am

      Very true Marvin! Thanks for bringing those points to the table. There are countless ways that allowing women to drive would improve the economy and overall well being of Saudi Arabia’s citizens!ReplyCancel

  • Sally TomlissonOctober 14, 2014 - 8:59 am

    I have been in Kingdom nearly 4 years and seen some hideous sights on the roads here. I’ve also been a qualified driver for over 30 years and would much rather put my children’s lives in my hands by driving them myself, than the hands of drivers that have never been near a car before arriving in KSA. Whilst I appreciate some women do not want to drive in this country, surely we should all be working together to help those of us that do. It’s about basic human rights and having a choice, which females currently do not have in KSA. ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:51 am

      Sally I agree with you 110%! It should be a choice, and I would also much rather have the lives of my children in my own skilled hands than random men who usually don’t know how to drive and share little to no concern about my or my children’s safety!
      It always shocks me when women don’t help each other out of solidarity, and even more so when they try to make life more difficult and take rights away form other women.ReplyCancel

  • Paulina KlijsOctober 14, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    Let us start recruiting professional women drivers first to follow Islamic rules so we don’t have to drive alone with rude impolite unqualified foreign men. This way they can get accustomed to see women driving. I personally know very religious women who are against women driving bReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:51 pm

      If they allow that, I’m applying for a job as a driver!
      yes I know some women are against it. I find it very strange because nobody is forcing anyone to drive!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle BarnesOctober 15, 2014 - 3:58 am

    Well said!!! The driving issue (and revolting drivers I was subjected to) is what finally broke me, so I left Saudi after living and working there for 8 years.
    Today, I drove my son to school, then drove on to work. Cheap, efficient, and not one near death experience or harassment.
    I hope all women in Saudi will have this choice.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:50 pm

      I hope so too, and that it doesn’t break me :(ReplyCancel

  • AliaOctober 19, 2014 - 2:15 am

    It is hard to accept that ladies of Saudi Arabia are willing to drive but not allow. You will not to organize better and ask for it more vocally.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:44 am

      Hi Alia, thanks for the support and comment.
      I agree it could be more organized! But also keep in mind that lots of Saudi women actually do NOT want to drive! And I know this might be hard ot believe but some are even AGAINST allowing their Saudi sisters to drive!ReplyCancel

  • Adam ArrozalOctober 23, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    Brave! I hope more Saudi women and men find the courage to stand up with you. Kudos to you Layla!ReplyCancel

  • Judy PennyfeatherOctober 23, 2014 - 10:08 pm

    Good for you, Layla. If they take this site down, simply create another and keep on going. ReplyCancel

  • JeanOctober 24, 2014 - 3:27 am

    May I comment here from Canada:

    Not everyone is comfortable with driving. But I am free to make my decision…I bicycle everywhere to work, shopping, fitness and touring outside the city.

    I wear shorts, etc. enough said.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 30, 2014 - 12:31 pm

      Thank you Jean for the comment all the way from Canada :)
      Indeed, it should be about the choice! Probably even most women here are NOT comfortable with the thought of driving, but those who are ARE, should be given the choice to do so.ReplyCancel

  • Niki HydeOctober 24, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    Well written and much needed. Supporting this cause and have been for a long time.ReplyCancel

  • Margo CattsOctober 26, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    I’ve linked to this. Thank you for your courage, commitment, and honesty!ReplyCancel

  • Natural Facts | Foreign GirlOctober 26, 2014 - 1:49 pm

    […] an eloquent plea for change (which accompanied the Facebook conversation cited earlier), see “The Queens of Saudi Arabia Need to Drive” on the Blue Abaya blog. To keep up on the issue, Follow #Oct26Driving, #IWillDriveMyself, […]ReplyCancel

  • Fatimah AshworthOctober 29, 2014 - 10:53 am

    Granted that there are women out there that haven’t got trustworthy drivers at their fingertips.
    Granted that sometimes a lady is in dire need to go out and there isn’t anyone who can drive her.
    I am in full agreement that women need to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But I’d like to call your attention to the other side of the equation which has been conveniently ignored.

    [1] I agree that there are women out there that are responsible housewives who just want to do their duty and move on, but there also irresponsible women who all they want is to do is go out and attract attention to themselves, putting themselves very stupidly in the power of ruthless men ready to exploit such women.

    [2] The decision to allow only men to drive, was I’m sure, a measure taken to prevent the two genders mixing and subsequent harm coming from that. The fact that men were chosen over women, was because men are required in Islam to provide for their families, run their errands, and take care of them. If the man does not do that, then he will be questioned by Allah.

    [3] A woman is supposed to take care of her house and her children, yes or no? I don’t mean that she should be prevented from leaving the house at all, but I mean that in the same way that a man is required to leave the comfort of his home and go out to work and provide a living for his family (and he’ll be questioned about that by the way), then a women is required to stay at home a look after his family while he works for them. Right?

    If you come to the conclusion that I disagree with women driving in Saudi Arabia, then you’ve misunderstood me. I believe in women driving moderately. Those who have a sense of propriety and responsibility. Those who know that their first and foremost duty is to take care of her house and her children.
    You may argue that there are duties for women outside the house as well, like taking the children to school or to the dentist. I disagree. That is the man’s job. If he is away or busy, then it is his job to provide somebody to fulfil his original duty for him. And if he doesn’t? Than the job of the woman isn’t to slander the country or rant and rave about the injustice she is forced to face. No, her job in my opinion is to sit her husband down and give him a through talking to about his duties and priorities before anything else.ReplyCancel

    • radhaNovember 3, 2014 - 8:43 pm

      What about the women without husbands? the widows with no desire to remarry? what about women without kids ? how about super efficient women who can multitask?

      This has nothng to do with women staying home, just because women are given the power to drive doesnt mean they are going to go on rampage and start hanging around men.. — what irrational fear.

      again dont drive if you dont want to , sit your spouse an dlecture him , but why stop others who want to? why enforce your will on someone who is not similarly constrained?
      of course you have questiont he country’s laws, and criticize, it’s not my husband making laws that dont allow me to drive, it’s the people who rule and enfore the rule.ReplyCancel

      • Fatimah AshworthNovember 4, 2014 - 1:13 pm

        Of course. I understand your point about widows and single women with no men to drive them around. My point though if you read my comment closely, was not that women shouldn’t drive. On the contrary, I fully support the movement to allow women to drive. But I disagree with the way it is conducted. Slandering a country and insulting it ISN’T GOING TO GET YOU ANYWHERE, much less get the country you are living in to say: “Oh, I’m sorry that you don’t like this particular law. We’ll change it immediately.”
        Another thing which I meant when I posted my comment above, was that I wanted to point out the view the country took when they issued the law banning women to drive. They most probably took into account the widows, single women, and “super efficient muti-tasking” women, but from their point of view, the Cons outweighed the Pros, and so the issued the ban.
        You can’t for one second imagine that an upstanding country issued a law just because “they’re anti women” as many will have you believe. It’s only common sense that will tell you: Hang on a minute: THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
        A country usually studies the pros and cons of a decision before it makes it, so it follows quite nicely that they studied this particular decision prior to them issuing it. And that’s that.
        I trust that my point is made clear to all those who misunderstood me.ReplyCancel

    • MarieDecember 9, 2014 - 4:24 pm

      Fatima, truly, you think it a husband’s job to take the kids to the dentist? Then I say you have not sat through the many doctor’s appointments children require. Kids want their mother at such occasions, not dad. I know I did. I was so terrified of the dentist my mother would not tell me s we were going until the morning of, and then she would sit there with me in the dentist’s office. I didn’t want my dad for that, and he certainly wouldn’t have been much comfort! Women need to drive their kids not only to the doctor, but school and private lessons. I took dance and flute lessons, that my mother drove me to. My father was busy working. I can’t imagine that a young girl wouldn’t want to play on a team in KSA. Moms here are known as soccer moms, because all their kids play the sport, and they all drive them to the practices after school and on Saturdays. Be realistic. There’s no mixing of the sexes at these practices, it’s all soccer moms! And how on earth do you get the grocery shopping done? You expect your husband to do that too? How do you run errands, the dry-cleaning, pharmacy, bank, without a car? Driving is necessary!ReplyCancel

      • MarieDecember 9, 2014 - 4:46 pm

        When I said here I meant here in the United States. Sorry.ReplyCancel

      • LaylaDecember 9, 2014 - 8:13 pm

        Marie, most of the errands you mention are commonly done by the men of the family here. yes even groceries sometimes!ReplyCancel

  • Dee MangalinoNovember 2, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for quite sometime now and can’t help to comment on this matter.

    In an expat point of view, women driving in Saudi Arabia have pro’s and con’s

    Pro’s are
    1. Economically, they can save money by not hiring Drivers from different countries.
    2. The burden of waiting for someone to drive you around is quite a pain in the ass. Plus the fact that that someone (either your husband, brother or driver) may have other appointment or things to do can be disturbing.

    Con’s are
    1. The streets in Khobar, Dammam, Riyadh & Jeddah are usually clog by cars improperly parked (no offense, but Saudis normally do this particularly near the restaurants and mosques during prayer time). Imagine a family of 5 having cars for each and everyone have their own activities.
    2. Everyday there are a lot of road accidents across the Kingdom because of reckless drivers (I in particular. ههههه). I noticed that women driving in Bahrain aren’t that reckless but their habitual texting while driving would be more similar if it happens in Saudi.

    Overall, women should still be able to drive. The con’s stated above can be resolved if all parties are willing to cooperate.ReplyCancel

  • LukeNovember 11, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    Human rights doesn’t need an apostrophe. Just saying.ReplyCancel

  • Bible ScholarDecember 10, 2014 - 10:43 am

    If queens drive, than they not called queen anymore but call driver/slave lolReplyCancel

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  • Nancy L PickeringMay 13, 2015 - 4:36 am

    The most dangerous thing a woman could do is get behind the wheel, she will then become a target.. Sad..ReplyCancel

  • […] Introducing the newest edition of the Mobile Burkha– The simple and safe solution to allow women driving in Saudi Arabia! […]ReplyCancel

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