Just 3 days after King Salman issued a decree allowing women in Saudi Arabia to drive, a selfie of a man giving his wife a driving lesson led to some interesting conversation on Twitter.
Faisal BaDughaish, who’s an analyst in a gas and oil company from Dhahran in the east of Saudi Arabia, tweeted a picture of him with his wife in an empty car park.
The tweet said: “I started teaching my wife how to drive in one of the private parking spaces in a safe and legal way, preparing for the law to take effect.”
However, the reaction to the picture – which was retweeted thousands of times – shows just how controversial the lifting of this driving ban really is. Some people said that they disapproved of BaDughaish publishing a photo of his wife’s face.
“Don’t you feel embarrassed or protective of her when posting her picture?” tweeted one user called Bderr1991. “Shame on you.”
Many women responded positively to the tweet though, saying that they too were expecting lessons from men in their family. A woman by the name of Amal Nadhreen said: “Tomorrow, my son Azzam will teach me how to drive.”
Some men, such as Faisal Alshehri, tweeted that they were encouraged by Mr BaDughaish to teach their own wives: “We’re all going to follow your lead.”
But other women revealed that the royal decree had caused debate within their own families. Julnar, a twitter user wrote: “I will let my son train me, even though my husband says no – but I am not having that.”
Mr BaDughaish spoke to BBC Arabic and said that both he and his wife had been “waiting impatiently” for Saudi Arabia’s law to change and that he was hoping the selfie would encourage other Saudi men to teach their female relatives to drive.
The husband added that he also wanted to inspire women to train in a legal way, as it is currently not permissible for females to learn how to drive on main roads in Saudi Arabia.
He refused a request to interview his wife and said he didn’t want to share any details about her.
BaDughaish also noted that some of the messages sent to him were so threatening that he reported them to Saudi Arabia’s cybercrimes department.
The historic announcement, which will allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive from June 2018 onwards, was made at the United Nations by Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative.
The Gulf kingdom is the only country in the whole world which bans women from driving.