Saudi biking ban overturned

I posted a couple of days ago about the positive aspects of life in the emirates for females.

I didn’t even mention the ladies nights that take place across the city, to which you can shimmy on down in your highest heels and your sparkliest, skimpiest top and get plied with pink bubbly and more, on the house. Their logic being that where there are gals, the men will follow.

All in all, I think we have it amazingly good here, I really do. Certainly, there’s a lot of misinformed opinion around the world (‘Do they cut your hands off in Dubai?’ has appeared in my blog stats twice this week). However, the truth is the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf.

But, as I pointed out, Western women living here will also encounter frustrations. For example:

– While setting up a joint bank account you might find your husband is the only person allowed to create your (your!) pin number

– You might have to get your husband to write a letter of consent to give to your GP before she can prescribe the contraceptive pill and all the health checks that go with it

And, believe me, things like this can make you froth at the mouth (what on earth happens, I wonder, if you don’t have a husband or close male family member? That must really throw ‘em for a loop).

A male relative should be present to provide prompt assistance in case of falls or accidents
A male relative should be present to provide prompt assistance in case of falls or accidents

I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that everything’s relative. Across the border in Saudi Arabia, life for women is quite different. The big news this week is that Saudi women can now legally ride a bike in public – sort of.

On Monday, the kingdom’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice reportedly overturned a ruling banning national women from cycling or motorbiking. But there are catches: they can only bike for leisure, not transportation, must wear a full-body abaya and be accompanied by a male relative.

I mean, seriously, let a woman pedal off on a bike and you never know where she’ll end up.

9 thoughts on “Saudi biking ban overturned

  1. I’m just catching up on my blog reading and thought it was pretty interesting that you posted something on SA – our contract ends in July and we are debating whether to renew or move home or accept another assignment – one possibility= Saudi Arabia. No details at all yet, only know it would be associated with the Saudi Aramco Camp in Dhahran. (sp.) Looks like a stern, scary version of your life in Dubai except when within the walls of the compound and even then – no drinking. Just wondering if you know of any SA blogs or bloggers? I’ve found a couple blogs, but most of them seem to be written by either US women married to Saudi Men, and only a couple of them mentioned compound life – couldn’t find any from Dhahran. Sounds like the Aramco camp used to be quite nice but it’s changed quite a bit in recent years and it doesn’t sound like there are many Westerners around anymore. Any insight would be GREATLY appreciated!

    • Oh my Gosh, wow, what an interesting possibility!!! What a LOT to think about! I really wish I could help! I don’t know too much about life in Saudi Arabia, other than yes there are big compounds – where I believe it can be quite fun! (I certainly enjoy our compound here in Dubai and I think they are even more self-contained in Saudi Arabia?)…and yes life outside the compound would be quite different. (I’m sure I’ve heard there’s drinking within the compounds and lots going on)…That’s a big decision. State oil giant Saudi Aramco is certainly a huge company – there are articles about them ALL the time in the business magazine I freelance for. You’d think they’d know how to look after their expat workers, but I don’t know anyone personally. The only blog I know (which you might have found already) is Susie of Arabia:
      GOOD LUCK with this decision. On the upside, the Middle East is a great travel location. On the downside, life outside compound could feel surreal. I guess try to talk to as many people who live there as pos…KEEP US POSTED!!!

    • ps – I’ve known a few families where the wife and children live here in the UAE, and the husband lives away for work during the week. A friend over the road was here with her 3 kids and her husband travelled to Iraq each week for his job. Not the best situation for family life, though (they ended up moving back to the UK, as she got a bit fed up with him being gone all the time and her kids were very small)…but it’s a possibility and I can certainly recommend life here!

  2. Oooh – thx for the quick reply! MrL’s company is bidding on an enormous construction job out there – they’re (Aramco) basically building a whole new compound (city? village) and his company would be doing the project management. Still don’t know if they have been awarded the contract but will know within the week, and, if so, there will be some decision making involved. It would have to be pretty darned lucrative to get MrL to live for 2 years without (legally)drinking beer, but it looks like there would be ample opportunity to travel. Just trying to gather as much information as possible so that if we’re faced with a short turnaround time for the decision, we’re prepared. Will let you know how things develop!

  3. Well, we are doing a semi-commuter thing at the moment (MrL works about a 2-hour commute south of here, stays 3 nights a week there/4 here) so that wouldn’t be out of the question, just would have to see what exactly is provided in the benefits package. #2 would probably have to go to boarding school anyway, so he’d probably love it if we moved there! Oh, and I did find Susie of Arabia – she’s one of the first that pops up!

  4. That is kind of hilarious- I mean crazy and probably really annoying but that picture made me laugh and your last comment 🙂

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