The ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia has been lifted, sure. But there are still men in the country who continue to vehemently oppose the Middle Eastern nation's decision to "allow" women the freedom. Two such men in the city of Makkah have been arrested for burning a woman's car on Wednesday, July 4.
The men abused 31-year-old Salma Al-Sharif, accusing her of driving "against God's will".
State press organisation Saudi Press Agency reported that the duo was arrested after they were found guilty of setting Al-Sharif's car on fire. As per the report, one man bought gasoline at a garage and asked the other to help him start the fire. The suspects have been arrested by the cops who registered a case of arson.
Al-Sharif, a cashier said that the blaze was deliberately started by men the men as they "opposed to women drivers." She also said that prior to the incident, she was abused by men in her neighbourhood after she began driving.
The incident came to light after a neighbour informed Al-Sharif's father. The case was referred to the public prosecution in preparation for court proceedings.
In an interview to SPA, Al-Sharif said that she used to spend half of her SAR4,000 ($1,067) monthly salary on a driver while the ban was in place. "But from the first day of driving I was subjected to insults from men," she said.
Citizens all over the country, including members of the kingdom's consultative Sharia Council, have condemned the incident and publicly lent their support to Al-Sharif.
The middle-eastern country lifted its ban on women drivers on June 24 in a historic move, one that is expected to revive the struggling Saudi economy. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been at the helm of several sweeping changes that have transformed Saudi Arabia, opening up the economy and reducing the dependence on oil.
The right to drive is expected to open new employment opportunities for women and could add an estimated $90 billion to the Middle Eastern nation's economic output by 2030, according to Bloomberg Economics. However, women continue to face an uphill task.
There is a severe backlog of female applicants in existing driving schools, and the lack of schools in nine regions will mean it will be a long time before women drivers become a regular sight on Saudi roads.