Saudi prin­ce calls for end to coun­try’s ban on wo­men dri­ving

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

SAUDI ARABIA - A bil­li­o­nai­re Saudi prin­ce has cal­l­ed for an “ur­gent” end to his coun­try’s ban on wo­men dri­ving. “Stop the de­ba­te: Ti­me for wo­men to dri­ve,” Prin­ce Al­wa­leed bin Ta­lal said on his of­fi­ci­al Twit­ter ac­count.

Al­wa­leed is an unu­su­al­ly out­spo­ken mem­ber of the Saudi roy­al fa­mi­ly who holds no po­li­ti­cal posts but chairs King­dom Hol­ding Co, who­se in­te­rests in­clu­de US ban­king gi­ant Ci­tigroup and the Eu­ro Dis­ney the­me park. The phi­lan­thro­pist is a long­ti­me ad­vo­ca­te of wo­men’s rights in the king­dom, which has so­me of the world’s tigh­test re­stric­ti­ons on wo­men and is the on­ly coun­try whe­re they are not al­lo­wed to dri­ve. In ad­di­ti­on to his short tweet, Al­wa­leed’s of­fi­ce is­sued a sta­te­ment on Tues­day out­li­ning his rea­sons for sup­por­ting an end to the ban. “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,” Al­wa­leed said: “They are all un­just acts by a tra­di­ti­o­nal so­ci­e­ty, far mo­re re­stric­ti­ve than what is law­ful­ly al­lo­wed by the pre­cepts of re­li­gi­on.” He al­so de­tai­led the eco­no­mic costs cau­sed by wo­men ha­ving to re­ly on “fo­reign” pri­va­te dri­vers or taxis. Even if their hus­bands can ta­ke ti­me out to trans­port them, that re­qui­res tem­po­ra­ri­ly lea­ving the of­fi­ce and un­der­mi­nes the pro­duc­ti­vi­ty of the work­for­ce, he said. “Ha­ving wo­men dri­ve has be­co­me an ur­gent so­ci­al de­mand pre­di­ca­ted upon cur­rent eco­no­mic cir­cum­stan­ces,” he ad­ded. Saudi Arabia’s oil re­ve­nues fell by 51% last year af­ter a col­lap­se in glo­bal pri­ces, which remain at less than half the le­vel they we­re two ye­ars ago. As a re­sult, the govern­ment has de­lay­ed ma­jor pro­jects, cut spen­ding, and rai­sed pri­ces for eve­ry­day ser­vi­ces in­clu­ding wa­ter and elec­tri­ci­ty. The king­dom in April an­noun­ced its Vi­si­on 2030 plan to di­ver­si­fy its oil-de­pen­dent eco­no­my and em­ploy mo­re Sau­dis, in­clu­ding wo­men. Un­vei­ling that plan, De­pu­ty Crown Prin­ce Mo­ham­med bin Sal­man, 31, said so­ci­al chan­ge can­not be for­ced. On wo­men dri­ving, he said: “So far the so­ci­e­ty is not per­su­a­ded ... but we stress that it is up to Saudi so­ci­e­ty.” (The­gu­ar­di­

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