Media Advisory: Saudi Arabia ban on women drivers

Two women who were arrested last week for driving their cars to Saudi Arabia have been detained for 25 further days signalling the Kingdom’s unwillingness to end discrimination against women. Amnesty International has consistently called for the ban to be overturned. 

Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested at al-Batha border crossing after attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates on 30 November. Maysaa al-Amoudi was also arrested at the border the next day when she attempted to bring some basic supplies to Loujain al-Hathoul even though she told the authorities she did not intend to drive inside Saudi Arabia. 

“Jailing a woman simply for driving a car is preposterous. These women are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. 

“By doggedly refusing to introduce serious women’s rights reforms, including granting them the right to drive, Saudi Arabia’s authorities are not only opening themselves up to criticism on an international stage but have also shattered any notion that they are genuinely committed to upholding equality and human rights.” 

Efforts to overturn the ban on women drivers have gathered pace in recent years. Scores of women have posted images of themselves driving on social media in defiance of the ban and to support the grassroots Oct 26 campaign for women’s right to drive. 

To arrange an interview with one of Amnesty International’s researchers on Saudi Arabia in London or with local supporters of the Oct 26 campaign inside the country please contact: 

Sara Hashash, MENA Press Officer, Amnesty International on +44 207 413 5511 or [email protected]