Jeremy Clarkson would approve of the size of our new car. There’s no eco or green about this beast of a GMC Yukon. The car is provided by the company and who wouldn’t be happy about someone giving you a brand new car. I would love to see JC do a desert challenge to see which of the big SUVs handle sand. Hard to know how this beast will go in dunes as the weather is becoming too hot for camping trips. In the mean time, I cannot tell you about its cornering or torque or even about pressing my foot to the metal. I am banned from driving, I have to accustom myself to being chauffeured, while I perch on the back seat.
The biggest new challenge to my life, apart from the Penguin suit, is that in Saudi Arabia it is against the law for women to drive. They are not allowed to drive cars, bikes, or even use push bikes as transport. As of April 3rd this year women are allow to ride bikes in public parks and recreation areas but only with an abaya on. Not sure how you make bike clips work for an abaya but hey ho baby steps towards womens’ rights. This has not always been the case. Before 1975 women were allowed to drive, and I have heard that outside the cities Bedu women drive in the desert.
What all this means is that if I want to go anywhere I need someone to drive me. As my husband is earning the daily crust, enter our new driver, Ronnie. Luckily, my husband warrants a driver as part of his contract and as part of my agreement with him to be here the driver is actually seconded to me. Ronnie is Filipino and his English is as yet unknown and by that I mean it is hard to tell how much he understands. He is very polite and willing, “Yes Ma’am” being the default position, but does not know Riyadh well, two people without a clue where they are going is a recipe for disaster. There is a SAT NAV in the car but it is also without any sense of direction, and indeed confuses the situation by pretending that we are somewhere completely different to where we actually are. So we have not ventured very far.
Ronnie thinks that the Saudi Drivers are not very good, Filipinos are much better drivers apparently and indeed the rules of the road here seem to include using roundabouts the wrong way round and other heinous crimes. This is plain scary. My view is that all driving would improve if women were on the roads. The boys would have to watch their manners and standards would go up. It is a fact women have less accidents than men. A 2011 survey by Met Life in the States found that men were 3.4 times more likely to get a ticket for reckless driving than women.
May be the Bloke’s Bloke, Jeremy Clarkson should be imported to forward the cause of women drivers in Saudi wouldn’t that would be a turn up for the books.
I have discovered that women actually own more cars in Saudi Arabia than men, and so for every car they own the must employ a driver. If that was the case elsewhere I wonder what effect it would have on un-employment.