Behind the wheel, a year on: Saudi women savour new freedom - GulfToday

Behind the wheel, a year on: Saudi women savour new freedom

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Sabeeha al-Fakher, a 68-year-old Saudi widow, drives her pearl-silver Lexus.

Buckling up in a pearl-silver Lexus, Sabeeha al-Fakher takes the wheel and relegates her son to the passenger seat, a role reversal the 68-year-old Saudi widow never imagined would be possible in her lifetime.

Overturning the world's only ban on female drivers has potentially put thousands of women behind the wheel in the most visible symbol of the kingdom's modernisation drive.

Among them is Fakher, a mother-of-five who never thought she would see the reform, which ushered in a new era of freedom and mobility for women.

"I still don't believe it," she said, zipping past younger drivers in her native eastern city of Qatif.

Her husband, who passed away a decade ago, secretly taught her how to drive.

The reform has freed many Saudi women from their dependence on private chauffeurs and male relatives.

"We feel like (we were) in a cage before," said Munirah al-Sinani, a 72-year-old mother of four, driving in the nearby city of Dhahran with her husband in the passenger seat.

"Open the cage. We fly, we go wherever."

Agence France-Presse