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More than Just Driving Cars - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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These are happy and historic days in Saudi Arabia! There are positive changes that would have never crossed our minds after years of despair.

For decades, every time an obstacle was removed, social and political battles would erupt tackling education, employment, sports and the media.

Mother of all battles was granting women their right to driving cars. King Salman intervened, signed and adopted the decree, and with that the biggest and toughest obstacle is removed.

The king’s decision was brave and wise which will be long remembered by history. He is the man who ended an era and began a new one.

The history will also remember Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in charge of development in the kingdom and the architect of the “vision” of the new state and its future.

Ever since Vision 2030 was announced, decisions were made one after the other; decisions we never thought possible because for long decades we were running in a vicious circle.

The message we can conclude here is that we are before a new modern kingdom discovering its status among civilized nations by adopting more welcoming standards that include everyone and is building a new and competent generation of men and women amid a real economy based on real developing aspects.

Many decisions and activities issued came as a surprise to the Saudi society because up until recently, they were considered almost impossible. Combined, they all reflect the transition plan evident to those considering the entire picture.

I believe, and after fierce opposition, that allowing women to drive cars is of great significance. However its political and social aspects are much bigger than that.

The king’s decision is a clear message to the society that the government will carry on with the path of change and modernization and will not allow those objecting to obstruct it.

Many years were wasted waiting for the society to change, especially the conservative members who refused any progress until hopelessness took over us. They objected any initiative or any hint to allow women to go out or drive cars or work or participate in social life.

Saudi Arabia cannot adopt an ambitious plan like Vision 2030 without acknowledging women as partners in it.

With the King’s courageous decision to allow women to drive, skeptics’ excuses tumble. Such decisions are not popular and are not looking to please one part at the expense of another; They aim to serve the greater good of the country and society.

For years now, driving ban was never based on convincing social or religious reasoning, but was applied following the desire of a category that wants to form the society according to its desires. Those isolated men who obstructed social and economic development can no longer lead an entire nation.

In order to not generalize, let’s note that those objecting the historic decision can be divided into two categories: a conservative category raised on traditions and wanting to maintain them, whose opinion we respect but is not binding, and another politicized category that wants to lead the society according to its own agenda.

The latter can no longer have a place in the kingdom. It is an extremist category with ill intentions, opposing every move and project because it wants Saudi Arabia to remain a disabled, depressed and obstructed state until it fails.

This category better understand the message: no one will allow it to stop the wheel of change.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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