A link from Are there any man-only places in the world? called No Women Allowed by Fox News repeats a claim I've often heard:

Women need a man, or government permission, to do just about anything – Saudi Arabian women aren’t even allowed to drive.

By contrast, Wikipedia claims the situation is not as clear cut as that. And I'd be more inclined to trust Wikipedia than Fox News!

What is the situation of women drivers in Saudi Arabia? Is it legal? Is it illegal, but tolerated? Also, is it only Saudi Arabian subjects (or those that the government regard as Saudi Arabian subjects) that driving restrictions apply to, or does it apply to foreign visitors who aren't Saudi Arabian subjects?

  • 4
    at least my Saudi friend said his mother drives a car in SA.
    – greg121
    Apr 19, 2013 at 12:18
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    @greg121 You can say anything to anyone doesn't mean it's legal. cnn.com/2012/06/10/world/meast/sharif-saudi-women-drive
    – Karlson
    Apr 19, 2013 at 12:33
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    @Karlson true, consider it only as a comment, not more.
    – greg121
    Apr 19, 2013 at 12:48
  • There is a difference between the enforcement of religious law and legislated law, though both are rather flexible in interpretation -- not just for driving. It depends on who the offender is, who saw the offender, who the responding authority is, and intermediate relationships among them. Some people can literally get away with murder, and some women will be punished severely for talking to a man without a chaperone. A bit arbitrary in practice, and extremely ambiguous even for lawyers to sort through.
    – zxq9
    Nov 22, 2014 at 9:22

3 Answers 3


No, driving for women in Saudi Arabia is not allowed regardless of the nationality.

What bothers me is, there is no clear rule in Saudi regarding driving for women, it is just not allowed! someone came up with this idea years ago and this idea still rules! that's why the police gets confused when they have a case about this, they do not know what to do! anyway things are heading to the right direction and hopefully soon this non-sense will stop and everyone can drive.

FYI, women who live in small villages in the desert do drive!

UPDATE (26/09/2017)

Women will be allowed to drive effective June 2018.

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    So, there is no law about this, but someone just claimed "it was not allowed", and it quickly become a "habit" "to be respected"?
    – o0'.
    Aug 10, 2015 at 10:10
  • @o0'. If by "Habit to be respected" you mean "you can be arrested for it" then yes. Sep 27, 2017 at 0:56
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    From what I have read, the legalization is not effective until June 2018. Sep 27, 2017 at 2:17

Women who live in compounds can usually drive on the compound, Aramco.

Women can also drive offroad so long as no one official is about. But if you are caught the police will take you in.

I'm not sure what the punishment is, one of my friends (A Saudi) was detained until her father came to pick her up and she was made to sign a statement that she would not drive again.

  • Agree about all what u said... May 30, 2013 at 11:13
  • Indeed. Me too. May 30, 2013 at 19:33
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    As a side note my mother actually has a Saudi Driver's license from the 70's women were required to have one to drive in Aramco back then. Jan 14, 2014 at 11:48

Apparently there's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so -- and filming herself for YouTube.

Hear her story of what happened next in Manal al-Sharif: A Saudi woman who dared to drive.

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