Saudi Shoura Council to Discuss Lifting Ban on Women Driving

The Saudi Shoura Council has accepted a petition to look into lifting the ban on women driving, local news site Sabq reported Saturday. The Human Rights and Petitions Committee at the council have studied a petition signed by 3,000 citizens and decided that the issue should be opened for debate on the council floor.

“Merely opening the issue for debate would give credibility to the council,” Sulaiman al-Zaidi, former head of the committee was quoted as saying. “The council would win people’s trust as a body that represents them and takes up their issues.”

Abdulla Alami, one of the main bakers of the petition, told Sabq last December that the petition recommended lifting the ban on women driving and asked the council to set a date to discuss it. “More than 3,000 citizens signed the petition, including academics, columnists, intellectuals and students of both genders,” he said. Alami has recently published a book titled “When would Saudi women drive?” explaining how the petition came about and making the case for lifting the ban.

Earlier this year, King Abdullah appointed 30 women as members of the Shoura Council for the first time. The advisory body serves as a quasi-parliament in the conservative kingdom, and the step of appointing women on it angered some hardline clerics. Preacher Nasser al-Omar criticized female members of the council after they said they want to debate lifting driving ban last month.