Saudi prince says it's 'time for women to drive'

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. This hardline has been challenged by women's rights protesters and now a prominent Saudi prince.

"Stop the debate: Time for women to drive," Prince Alwaleed bin Talal tweeted this week. The prince holds no official office, but runs several business relationships for the ruling family. He's also very devoted to women's rights, Al Jazeera reports. The prince also released a longer statement entitled ' It's high time that Saudi Woman started driving their cars', calling for more human rights for women in the desert kingdom. He compared allowing women to drive to allowing women to get an education as an example that those who think the expanded rights would be harmful to the country are wrong.

"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."

Allowing women to drive isn't just the right thing to do, the prince noted, but makes good economic sense as well. Alwaleed notes that families spend upwards of $1,000 per month on private male drivers for women. Families have struggled in Saudi Arabia this year as oil prices remain low. This fall, foreign workers who keep the kingdom humming protested after working for months without pay. Government workers, which comprise 70 percent of the working population, began to implement austerity measures in September, according to the Independent. They're trying to avoid another disastrous year like 2015, when the country experienced a $100 billion deficit.

Women in Saudi Arabia have been actively pushing for the right to drive for years. Women in Saudi Arabia climb behind the wheel every October 26 to protest the unfair laws. They also practice driving using bumper car rides.
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