News Desk |
In a bizarre turn of the events, a significant day in the life of a Saudi family, suddenly turned into a rather dramatic day in the collective life of Saudi women. Upon disagreement over his Bride’s driving permission, a Saudi groom suddenly walked out of the marriage ceremony. The bride’s father had suddenly told the groom’s family that bride would drive when Saudi Arabia lifts its ban on women driving in June 2018.
After a much-publicized decision by the Saudi monarchy to lift the ban on women driving, this has been most prolific news till date. The decision, to lift the ban, has been hailed by world governments, activists, and the general public as an essential victory towards gender equality – and towards a modern Saudi Arabia. However, the incident reflects a deep seated divide within the society on the issue.
The conservatism is deeply rooted in KSA and is embedded in the culture. It will continue to haunt the society for some time to come. The oppression is not easy to overcome
According to the sources, the groom had agreed to the dowry of 40,000 riyals (Rs 1,124,000) with permission to allow “soon-to-be wife” to continue working after getting married. However, things took an ugly turn after the bride’s father made an additional demand.
All the arrangements were made, most of the formalities were done and just minutes before the formal religious wedding ceremony was about to start, bride’s father put forward his last minute demand which proved dramatic for the onlookers as the groom got up and left the building leaving even his own family behind – and everyone stunned.
The conservative society of the country under its absolute monarchy had a ban on woman driving until earlier this month when it was announced by the Saudi government that it would be revoked.
This change is part of the recent modernity reforms announced by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Young prince, son of King Salman, is seen as a symbol of change in a traditionally conservative country. He and his supporters intend to change the image of Saudi Arabia across the world.
Modernization is often coupled with political upheavals, so future of Saudi Arabia may neither be easy nor certain.
The Saudi government had stated that “it will use the ‘preparatory period’ until June to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new motorists”.
The conservative society of the country under its absolute monarchy had a ban on driving until earlier this month when it was announced it would be revoked
Saudi decision makers, like its articulate Foreign Minister, Adel bin Jaber, had often distinguished between Kingdom’s Islamic policies and the cultural conservatism. Adel bin Jaber, who had previously also served as Kingdom’s Ambassador in Washington, in interviews with the US media, had repeatedly pointed out that ‘ban on woman driving’ is a cultural conservatism issue and nothing to do with Islam. The gender based conservatism is deeply rooted in Kingdom’s predominantly tribal society and is embedded in the culture. It will continue to haunt the society for some time to come.
Groom’s walking out from his marriage ceremony, when he had earlier agreed to his wife working after marriage, reflects the cultural pressures inside the society.
Groom’s walking out from his marriage ceremony, when he had earlier agreed to his wife working after marriage, reflects the cultural pressures inside the society. The “modernity change” which Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is trying to bring will thus not be not easy. It has to be a gradual process which can only succeed if number of other institutions and established trends such as education system, cultural norms at work place and clerical sermons from mosques also get a reorientation.
Going forward challenges to Saudi Arabia’s sincere quest towards modernity may take the form of newer issues, interesting debates, and surprises. Modernization is often coupled with political upheavals, so future of Saudi Arabia may neither be easy nor certain.