AP story on Saudi women driving a hoax?

Female driver Azza al-Shmasani alights from her car after driving in defiance of the ban in Riyadh June 22, 2011.

Female driver Azza al-Shmasani alights from her car after driving in defiance of the ban in Riyadh June 22, 2011.

A story reported by the Associated Press on Friday claiming that Saudi Shura Council has recommended to the government lifting a de-facto ban on women’s driving was previously reported in Arabic press in details six years ago, in 2008.

The Associated Press mentioned the conditions under which women could be allowed to drive: These appear to be the exact same conditions mentioned in the 2008 reports, which were never confirmed and was acknowledged by many as a hoax or a joke which was made popular by social media.

The government is not obliged to implement the Shura Council’s recommendations as it is a consultative body and not a legislative one.

Exactly like the 2008 reports, the Associated Press story quoted an anonymous member of the Shura Council as saying the recommendations were made in “secret, closed session held in the past month.”

“The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public,” the Associated Press story said. Same alleged recommendations were of course reported six years ago.

Among these, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive with permission from a male guardian and only from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, which is the weekend in the kingdom.

The alleged conditions also states women drivers should wear conservative dress and no make-up.

If women drivers want to venture outside cities, they would need a male guardian to be present with them in the car.

The alleged reports also said a “female traffic department” should be created to deal with female drivers when their cars break down in cases of traffic violations.

Female traffic officers would be under the supervision of the “religious agencies,” according to the reports.

All the above details carried in the AP story were previously reported in Arabic, but they were never confirmed and remained unsubstantiated claims.

The AP story ‎doesn’t include any official government confirmation nor does it explain the questionable similarities with the 2008 report which all proved to be untrue.

A source close to a Shura Council member informs Al Arabiya News that the AP report seems baseless and that there has been no recent developments on the women driving front to report, adding that such announcements are usually made public.

 
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