In an extended opinion piece on his personal website forward thinking Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, declared that he believes its “high time” that women be allowed to start driving in the country. He noted that “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”.
The outspoken prince who’s been named in the past as one of the worlds one hundred most influential people. A well known philanthropist, he’s currently the 41st richest person in the world. He’s known as the Arab Warren Buffett, due to his large investment holdings in shares through his investment company Kingdom holdings. Though he currently doesn’t hold any formal position in the Saudi government is certainly an authoratitve voice in the country. In 2015 he said that he was going to give away all of his wealth to charity. The prince is a huge supporter of empowering women. Though his voice seems to very lonely in the Arab state. He’s often been at odds with the government of the country, even donating $10m to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Though himself forward thinking, only recently the country’s Shura council decided to reject even studying the idea of women being able to drive. His progressive nature can only be highly attributed to his education in the US. Where he would’ve been able to see first hand the world in which women are equal. He studied at Syracuse in the late 70’s in to the early 80’s. He gained degrees in business and social science.
The Prince’s reasoning comes from statistics in the country that suggest that there are now one million working women in the country, and that driving would assist them in getting to and from work. He also went on to suggest that the rules encourage families to take on foreign drivers to chauffeur the women to and from work. He suggested that the practice removed money from the state.
Local media reported that afterwards the prince noted that “Saudi Arabia isn’t ready” to remove the repressive practice. The country has only in the last year allowed women to vote, with the first elections last December. It’s also now increasingly common for younger women in the country to attend university and start working, as the country begins to gradually catch up with the rest of the world. Though driving appears to be a hurdle that may need rather more work.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.