The royal says lifting the ban could actually create more jobs for women.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal posted a letter to his Twitter account on Tuesday titled “It is high time that Saudi women started driving their cars”.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where it’s illegal for women to drive.
Alwaleed has long been an advocate for empowering women, announcing in 2015 his intention to donate Dhs117.5 billion to philanthropic causes including the empowerment of women and youth, disaster relief, disease eradication and building bridges of understanding across cultures.
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In the four-page letter, Alwaleed cites financial, economic, social, religious and political reasons why woman should be allowed to drive.
حان وقت قيادة المرأة للسيارةhttps://t.co/BBgyF8i1Gs
Stop the debate:
Time for women to drivehttps://t.co/6KAniFa4BT
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) November 29, 2016
“Preventing a woman from driving a car is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” he wrote.
“Such a ban on driving is fundamentally an infringement on a woman’s rights, particularly as it continues to exist after she had won her right to an education and a salaried employment.”
Citing the financial reasons, Alwaleed mentions that to circumvent their inability to drive, many Saudi women employ drivers from foreign countries.
The foreign drivers send a large portion of their salary back home to their families, taking the money spent on drivers out of the Saudi economy.
Allowing women to drive would not only allow for more disposable income for Saudi families, but Alwaleed estimates would keep around 30 billion riyals inside the local economy each year.
If women were allowed licences, Alwaleed suggests that women could also employ another Saudi woman to be their drivers.
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This would not only create more jobs for Saudi women but would avoid the violation of the fatwa that forbids women to be alone with a man who is not a legal guardian – a fatwa that has become commonplace to break among Saudi women and their foreign drivers.
Alwaleed does, however, lay down some required restrictions and conditions should women be granted the ability to drive.
Women would be required to carry smartphones to be used when needed, and it must be ensured that they are acquainted with road assistance services in case of a break-down.
However, women would be banned from driving outside city limits, and their licence to drive would be limited to cars only – no motorbikes, buses or trucks.
“In addition to the above, I propose the provision of trained women in the Traffic Department who will deal with women in the event of their being involved in accidents or traffic violations,” Alwaleed adds.
Speaking about the proposed change, Alwaleed says: “Everyone, of course, has his or her own ideas. But what we should all be mindful of is not to have us impose our ideas on others, or to cause us to hinder the advancement of what I consider to be a rightful cause because of an attachment to narrow perspectives.”