Saudi Arabian Women Love Bumper Cars

The headline comes from a story in today’s Wall Street Journal about how popular the bumper car ride is at the weekly ladies-only night at the Al Shallal Theme Park in the coastal city of Jeddah.

A big reason for the popularity of the ride is that it offers Saudi women the chance to drive a car, in a country that bans female drivers.

But the vast majority of the women prefer not to use the cars for their intended use – ramming into each other – but simply to enjoy the experience of driving a car.

The night out also gives women the chance to relax their dress code a bit, discarding head scarves and head-to-toe black gowns to reveal the latest trends—ripped jeans and tank tops.

The weekly ladies only night also means that not only are all the customers female, but so are all the employees.

The night out also gives women the opportunity to attend the movies. Cinemas are normally banned, but there are two of them in Al Shallal alone. While the movies last under five minutes, the experience is really just about the special effects: 3-D screens, seats that jolt, and sprays of water.

It’s hard for me to comprehend what it must be like to live in a place where the laws and customs are so different from ours.

But my sense is that allowing little things like a women’s night only at the amusement park is the first step towards more significant changes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a steady progression towards more rights for women in Saudi Arabia.

I have no idea how long it will take for such changes to take place or how far the changes will go, but I think the writing is on the wall.

Before you know it, these women will be slamming into each other not only in bumper cars, but on the highways and in parking lots, just like men.

 

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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