Saudi woman fulfills lifelong dream to drive F1 auto

April FrancisJun 25, 2018

But veteran Saudi activist Hala Aldosari says women remained second-class citizens and criticised the crown prince's "piecemeal approach" as serving the interests of the elite at the expense of women from more restrictive families.

In this June 23, 2018 photo, a Saudi woman covering her name holds her new vehicle license at the Saudi Driving School inside Princess Nora University in Saudi Arabia. She also was the first woman to import a Ferrari into Saudi Arabia and has taken her 458 Spider to tracks around the country for workshops and track days. Fearing a backlash ahead of the lifting of the ban on women drivers, Saudi Arabia's government passed a law against sexual harassment, with a penalty of up to five years in prison, and warned men not to stalk women drivers on the road.

Asked whether there would now be female Saudi racing drivers, she replied: "For sure, definitely".

It's midnight in Riyadh, and she's making her way across the city she was born and raised in, finally in the driver's seat of her own vehicle. Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from today, ending the world's only ban on female motorists. They included women who fought for years to be able to dThe government has been keen to promote the end of the ban as a sign that women's rights are advancing after decades of worldwide criticism. rive.

Women celebrate after they drove their cars in Al Khobar.

"There will be more cars on the road", Khalid Al-Falih said in Vienna, where he was attending an OPEC meeting. There were no reported casualties or damage immediately, but there was shrapnel on a street in the diplomatic quarter where most embassies are located and many foreigners live, a Reuters witness said.

Potentially thousands of female drivers are set to take the wheel as the desert kingdom ends the decades-old ban, long a glaring symbol of repression against women.

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However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive.

Hadid added that while the lifting of the ban "is a long-overdue small step in the right direction, [it] must now be followed by reforms to end a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices", including the country's restrictive guardianship laws that require women to get the consent of male guardians for a variety of basic needs. Many haven't had a chance to take the gender-segregated driving courses that were first offered to women only a few months ago.

The overwhelming majority of women in Saudi Arabia still don't have licenses.

"He is telling me not to (drive right away), to postpone it for a year until we see what it will be like, but I will apply anyways", she said. And the classes can be costly, running several hundred dollars. The moment is emotional for Al Hamad, as this is the first time that she's driven a auto in her own country, more so, on a race track.

"Worst of all will be if these small-scale reforms, and the silencing of feminists, slow the momentum for pushing the Saudi regime into making more meaningful change", she wrote in a USA newspaper.

"I am not a provoker, not a vandaliser, not a terrorist, a criminal or a traitor", Abdelaziz said in a letter before her arrest, which was cited by HRW. "It is one of my rights and I will keep it in my purse", said 60-year-old Lulwa al-Fireiji. The ministry declined to disclose how many women had received licenses so far, saying the process is still in the early stages.

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