Dubai: For Saudi women, 10/10 will hold a great significance in their full empowerment drive.
The date refers to 10 Shawwal, the tenth day of the tenth month on the Islamic calendar, corresponding to June 24, 2018.
“This 10/10 gave us Saudi women the perfect score of 10 as we can officially drive in our beloved kingdom,” Ruwa, a Saudi national living in Bahrain, said.
“I have been driving here in Bahrain without problems and I look forward to the same feelings and experiences in Saudi Arabia.”
In the Saudi capital Riyadh and elsewhere in the vast kingdom, not even waiting for daybreak on Sunday, women took to the wheel in the early hours past midnight, drove straight into history books.
As the clock ticked past midnight on Saturday, scores of women drivers, armed with their new Saudi driving licences, drove along busy Tahlia thoroughfare and other streets in Riyadh, the Centre for International Communication (CIC) said.
The scenes were repeated on the streets of the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and other cities across the Kingdom.
“It is a mix of emotions really. I am very excited and thrilled that this day had finally come. It is truly a dream come true. I am thrilled to be finally driving in the streets of my home country,” said Salma Rashed Al Sunaid, who was among the first batch of women to receive a Saudi driving licence in Riyadh.
“Over 30 years ago, my grandfather had a published news article interview stating his full support for women driving in Saudi Arabia. He would have been happy that this day is finally here, may he rest in peace.”
“This is a very important day and moment for every woman in Saudi Arabia. My feelings are indescribable, I am super happy, overjoyed, and excited to start hitting the road in my city and in my country for the first time,” said Tahani Al Dosemani, Assistant Professor and Undersecretary of the Deanship of the Technology Department at Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz University in Al Kharj, 77 km south of Riyadh.
She, too, was among the first group of women to receive their Saudi driving licences on June 4, exchanging her US-issued driving licence for a Saudi one.
“I have all the feelings of empowerment and independence being finally behind the wheel and driving my car by myself,” she said.
“I also have huge feelings of gratitude and thankfulness to our King and our Crown Prince who made that happen and who are constantly working hard to provide women in Saudi Arabia with increasingly more rights through multiple decisions and changes to ensure women’s equality, inclusion, and empowerment,” she added.
Coming of age moment
Hours earlier, Areej Al Gurg tweeted: “Buying a car for the first time will no longer be a coming-of-age moment for men only in Saudi Arabia.
“Only a few hours away, and for the first time in its history, women will be able to drive themselves legally in Saudi Arabia at exactly midnight tonight. #SaudiWomenDriving”
In September, King Salman issued royal orders to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia starting June 24 following the completion of all logistics, including setting up driving schools, conducting awareness programmes and enacting an anti-harassment law.
Scores of women took driving lessons at a number of driving schools around the Kingdom and 40 women were trained on traffic accident investigation and management.