‘No Woman, No Drive’: Satire comes to Saudi Arabia and a journalist gets jailed

IT WENT up on YouTube on October 26  and has so far attracted over nine million hits (click on pic to watch).


Alaa Wardi’s very amusing “No Woman, No Drive” coincided with a campaign in the Islamic Kingdom that encouraged women to defy their country’s ban on driving. As far as we know, Wardi remains free, but the authorities  took a very dim view of articles written in support of women drivers by columnist and high school teacher Tariq Al Mubarak.

Tariq Al Mubarak.

Tariq Al Mubarak.

He was arrested on October 27. Reporters without Borders has called for his immediate and unconditional release, and a petition has just been created calling on King Abdullah Al-Saud and the Saudi government to free him.

In an article published within the petition, Mubarak brands conservative knuckle-draggers who hold back progress in society as “terrorists”.

Meanwhile, over at the Blue Abaya blog, “Layla”, tongue firmly in cheek, laid into the authorities with a satirical piece – “26th October, The Day The World Almost Came To An End” – that spoke of the “crime” of DWF (Driving While Female). She wrote:

One of the main concerns of DWF is the correlation between how much fabric covers a woman’s body and driving a vehicle. When females start driving it automatically leads to removal of clothing, as can be seen in the West were women almost always drive naked.

A concerned citizen, Ibrahim Al Shammari, drafted up a car cover which he called the ‘Mobile Burkha’ in order to prevent men from seeing a woman driver. The initiative was rejected by the Traffic Ministry because it was the wrong colour.


The report added:

The traffic department had stepped up their presence all across the Kingdom due to the increased security threat of women taking control. Check points were set up in all major cities to catch any females disturbing national security.

A record total of 567,899 police cars, secret police cars, police motorcycles, police boats and camel police were placed on level 5, highest security alert status. The National Guard pitched in with tankers, helicopters and check points.


10 responses to “‘No Woman, No Drive’: Satire comes to Saudi Arabia and a journalist gets jailed”

  1. Angela_K says:

    “…catch any females disturbing national security”. Who would have thought Women drivers could be such a threat. All that effort and money to prevent Women from driving; the Saudi rulers have obviously no other problems to solve in their Country.

  2. Matt+Westwood says:

    “… as can be seen in the West were women almost always drive naked.”

    Where? WHERE? I gotta see … is this down on the M4 past Swindon where there’s a sign for the South Wales Bristol Bath?

  3. JohnMWhite says:

    Come on, guys, why the enormous lie that is so ludicrous as to be comical? Do they just want to be mentioned on the Daily Show? If they came out with some rant about women sometimes wearing bikinis while driving to the beach, at least it’s something that happens, though why it matters more when they are in a car is beyond me. Saying women in the West ‘almost always drive naked’ is just the sloppiest, laziest attempt at propaganda, and the average Saudi is going to find it incredibly easy to discover that this is a bare-faced lie. If you’re going to be totalitarian despotic dipshits, put some fucking effort into it.

    The initiative was rejected by the Traffic Ministry because it was the wrong colour.

    Proof positive of the damage religious thinking does to any other cognitive function. The colour is the problem because an arbitrary set of religious rules say the colour is the problem; the fact you can’t see through it and could kill somebody is not the problem because god never said “thou must be able to see thy road”.

  4. Barry Duke says:

    John, I did say in the report that this was SATIRE! I know satire appears to be entirely unknown in the Muslim world, but it does exist, much to the chagrin of many. Here is a link to a story sent to me from BarrieJohn about a satirical show in Egypt:

  5. charlie says:

    The bit below the photo says something about “increased security threat of women taking control”. THAT says it ALL. They are scared shitless about women having any control. Allah forbid that women might have a say in how things are run. What cowards!
    In my marriage we are equal partners and when we “need” a boss, I let my wife do that job. Beats being in the dog house………LOL. And we don’t even have a dog, nor a doG. I prefer cats myself.

  6. JohnMWhite says:

    @Barry Duke – my mistake, I should have read more carefully; I was under the impression the petition was a response to the article, not a satirical part of the campaign. Just the result of Reading Without Coffee.

  7. JohnMWhite says:

    ^not that the article was a satirical part of the campaign. This coffee’s weak.

  8. barriejohn says:

    This was posted on YouTube in June 2012:

  9. andym says:

    I only just realised that the Guardian had an article supporting the ban because it said the majority of Saudi women didn’t want to drive!
    It’s answered here, pretty much in full;
    Their stance “only illustrates the intellectually-sapping effect of moral relativism…which…trumps reason and logic.”
    The world has changed a lot if I fully support the Spectator against the Guardian.(I don’t think my views have changed.)