If you recall, Saudi Arabia announced last year that it was entering the 20th century by allowing women to drive cars. Never mind that it happened 17 years into the 21st century, but hey, any progress is good, right? It didn’t take long for automakers to start attracting the attention of potential female buyers, and now Automotive News reports that the first female-exclusive dealership has opened in the city of Jeddah.
Wait a minute here. Female-exclusive dealership? Yes, there’s still significant segregation in Saudi Arabia between men and women, partly because it’s been that way forever and partly because many folks with X and Y chromosomes feel it should still be that way. Like it or not there is a practical side to this, in that women’s evolving status in the extremely conservative country won’t come without some growing pains. Apparently that’s why this dealership was opened in a mall that, according to the report, is also run entirely by women.
It’s also why Saudi women taking to the streets is still several months away. The announcement for lifting the ban took place last year, but it doesn’t actually go into effect until June. That was allegedly so the country could develop better infrastructure for men and women to coexist. Again, there’s apparently a measure of “practicality” at play to help ease Saudi men into dealing with women on the road. Or so we’re told. Until then, Saudi women can at least look at cars.
Driving is great experience for one and all, so let’s kick this revolution into high gear Saudi Arabia. It’s about damn time, but please, don’t pick up the terrifically bad habits of western car dealerships. Balloons are so 20th century.