Jason Benham | Reuters
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2011-06-10 00:35

Rasha Al-Duwaisi, one of those detained on Thursday, put the ages of the group at between 21 and 30 and said they had met in a district of Riyadh late in the afternoon to teach each other how to drive using three cars.
They were quickly taken to a police station and instructed to summon their male guardians (mahram) to collect them from custody.
“It’s not the first time we have done this,” Duwaisi told Reuters by telephone from the station.
“It’s my right to drive and my right to know how to drive. I suffer because I can’t drive because I have to rely on a driver that I share with four others.”
Many families in Saudi Arabia have at least one driver with an average salary of around 2,000 Saudi riyals ($533) per month. Those who cannot afford this assign a male member of family to drive its women, which often amounts to a time-consuming burden.
Traffic police could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday’s arrests.
Two of the other detainees were Duwaisi’s sisters, she said, adding that she met the other three on Facebook and Twitter.
Authorities last month arrested Manal Al-Sharif, who posted a YouTube video of herself driving in the Eastern Province and calling on other women to do the same.
Al-Sharif has been released but faces charges of “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion.”
Another woman, Shaima Osama, was also arrested for driving last month in Jeddah. She too was later released.
Thousands of Saudi men and women joined Facebook groups calling for Saudi driving rights to be extended to women.
Women in the country are also required to have written approval from a designated guardian — a father, husband, brother or son — to emigrate, work or travel abroad.
The campaign that Al-Sharif launched is aimed at teaching women to drive and encouraging them to take to the roads from June 17, using foreign-issued licenses.

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