JEDDAH: Women around the Kingdom have turned the ignition in their cars for the first time on their home soil and hit the roads throughout the country. They have gone on social media to express their joy at this monumental occasion which has officially changed the course of their lives.
Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena was among the very first women to drive in the Kingdom as soon as the clock struck midnight.
Women in their cars enthusiastically and wholeheartedly cheered on their fellow female drivers on this memorable night.
“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated, said Almaeena.
She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”
Almaeena urges all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.”
Almaeena highlighted the significance of being a defensive driver. “I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”
On how society is adapting to this major change, Almaeena said: “Tomorrow is the first day, mentally and psychologically it already had that shift. As I mentioned, it’s a paradigm shift. In perception and how they view women, their capabilities — as equal partners.
“Mentally it’s already there, and physically we will see — as we start — more and more encouragement for both men and women. Even some of the women who weren’t feeling comfortable about driving, it’s going to be encouraging for them, in a live demonstration and evidence that women can do it.”
As roads around Saudi Arabia have been inhabited by a new breed of drivers, how has this affected the traffic flow in Saudi Arabia?
“As of 12 a.m., the implementation of the Supreme Court order to enable women to drive and the implementation of traffic regulations to both men and women is officially in effect," said Col. Sami Al-Shwairkh, the official spokesman for General Security in the Kingdom. "The security and traffic status on all roads and areas around the Kingdom have been reported as normal. There have not been any records from our monitoring of any unusual occurrences on the road throughout the Kingdom.”
To commemorate this occasion, as seen in the pictures circulating on social media, traffic policemen were handing roses to female drivers early on Sunday.
The General Security has already reported that it will be providing the required provisions for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.
Private insurance company Najm, in partnership with the General Department of Traffic, has hired 40 women and trained them to respond to road accidents involving female drivers.
The General Directorate of Traffic has completed all preparations to employ women on the country’s traffic police force.