Responses to Decision Regarding Women Driving in Saudi Arabia
In 2017, Saudi Arabian women were up in jubilation following King Salman's decree that allowed women the right to drive cars. Saudi Arabia is considered as strict religious nation that has overzealous laws compared to other parts of the world. The rights of the Saudi women are minimal and they have been oppressed over many regimes, hence, the decree by the King to allow the modern Saudi women to drive was a great welcome to women in the oil-rich country. Here are some responses exchanged and were broadcasted among various social media platforms.
Twitter was buzzing after the official communication that Saudi women had acquired the right to drive. Trending hashtags mostly in Arabic were launched immediately. The most trending hashtags on Twitter included #Kingbackswomendrive, #Saudiwomencandrive and #Womendrive. The decree was met with jubilation with one Aiyah Saihati commenting “Congratulations to Saudi women and men. Finally, the ban on driving is lifted and soon women will be further enabled on the way to self-determination. This issue is more than the sum of its parts. It is about unclogging a major social and economic artery that will significantly impact the country’s dynamism.”
More hashtags such as #Women2Drive, #SaudiWomenCanDrive, #26 September_Women_SaudiArabia were commonly used in relation to the decision regarding the women rights to driving in Saudi Arabia. One Twitter user exclaimed “I’m literally shocked. I’ve been here my whole life This is a whole new era!” Additionally, a meme of Saudi women riding bumper cars was captioned “Dreams come true,” with a keynote that read “Started from the bottom … now we are here.” Manal al-Sharif, who became the public face on the women right to drive campaign, tweeted: "Today the last country on earth to allow women to drive...we did it.
Instagram also was involved in reporting on the new right to drive for Saudi women. Instagram users took to the site to react to the King's decree by openly supporting or criticizing the move. One haddassah_yosef posted "Wow.... I am so happy for Saudi these days. They are leaving the stone age behind. Welcome to the 21st century Saudi dudes. You can never stop change. In addition, Princessharmeenart posted saying "Oh thank God. Lemme go back to meet my husband... 🏃"
Facebook also saw many post being made from Saudi Arabia and around the world. Posts received multiple like and shares which explained the enthusiasm and passionate for support of Saudi women right to drive. There was more than 6.6 thousand likes given to Saudi Arabia Just Lifted Its Ban On Women Driving post on Facebook and more than 2K shares with more than 774,000 views and more than 449 varied comments. One keen Facebook user by the name of Ali S. Alyami harshly bashed Americans who were criticizing the decree saying "Come on Americans lol that's funniest thing is you talking shit about another country and you forget you voted to the most racist and disrespectful men for women who said he doesn't have respect for women grab them by the pu*** lol "your president Trump" wash your shit first! Another reaction by Minahil Mukhtar inicated "Sooner or later they were bound to lift this ban. As no surah or no Hadith stops women from traveling." It was indicated that the ban on Saudi women driving was rather cultural than religious.
LinkedIn also was involved in the spread of the news on the right of Saudi women to drive. A comment by Raed Razaq claimed "I saw the future which is really great and I hope Saudi Arabia and all the country wish them the best." In an article in LinkedIn, Saudi women drivers spark Iranian social media buzz where one Facebook user, Sherli Shamsian, posted her congratulations to Saudi Arabian feminists, "Following years of struggle by women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, women are allowed to drive. I hope one day women will have the same rights as men across the world, particularly in Muslim Arab countries." Other Iranian social media users directed attention toward leaders of the women's movement in Saudi Arabia where one of the most prominent figure who stood out in the struggle was Manal al-Sharif, who is a leading Saudi women's rights activist and mastermind behind the conception of the brainchild "Women2Drive" campaign.
Media is regarded as the mirror of reality. The sources of information on most platforms is informed by experience, perception or even utter criticism, however, on the occasion of the Saudi women attaining their right to drive, it was met with great apprehension and the King applauded for his progressive decree. The world over shared in the reaction of happiness and awe equally women in Saudi Arabia rejoiced in the newly acquired right and status.