Female Saudi driver 'detained' at UAE-Saudi border

Female Saudi driver 'detained' at UAE-Saudi border
25-year-old Loujain Hathloul has reportedly been detained at the UAE-Saudi border, believed to have been attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia.
3 min read
Women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif campaigning for Saudi women's right to drive [Getty]
A Saudi women's rights activist, Loujain Hathloul, has reportedly been detained at the Saudi customs office on the country's border with the United Arab Emirates, after the 25-year-old attempted to drive into the kingdom.

Women are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Hathloul had been live-tweeting her attempt to break the ban over the past 24 hours, after being held up at the border by customs guards.

Hathloul appeared to be in good spirits as she approached the border crossing, tweeting this selfie.

Her presence appeared to cause confusion at Saudi customs. Hathloul tweeted that she had been taken to an official "who is calling an official who is calling an official", before adding that she expected this would continue until they reached Saudi Interior Minister, Muhammed Bin Nayef.

A Saudi television presenter, Maysaa al-Amoodi, who works for Dubai-based al-Aan TV, has also reportedly been detained, having gone to the border to give Hathloul supplies and support.

Hathloul was forced to sleep in her car after she refused to return to the UAE, and is believed to have had her passport taken by the Saudi authorities.

The 25-year-old's humorous tweets to her 211,000 followers have led to hundreds of people tweeting in support.

One supporter of Hathloul's plight compared her to African-American civil-rights activist Rosa Parks, who defied the racist bus segrigation law in 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. 


The Saudi based "October 26 Driving" campaign posted videos of Saudi women breaching the law and driving in solidarity with Hathloul.

However, some weren't insired and supportive of Hathloul's action, opting instead for ridicule and insult.   


Others blamed the young Saudi woman for her own arrest saying that she "bought it on herself".

 Last year Saudi women launched a campaign named  "women2Drive", urging women to defy the state driving ban. Dozens of women participated and posted videos of themselves driving as part of a planned social media campaign.

In June 2011, around 40 women drove in protest at the detention of a woman who posted a video of herself driving.

One demonstrator was arrested and sentenced to 10 lashes, but this was overturned by the king.

Hathloul's protest is the most recent in a struggle led by Saudi women and campaigners for more than a decade.

Women in the Gulf country have been resisting their country's discriminatory law since it was first legislated in 1990. That year, around 50 protested the law and drove their cars. They were all jailed for a day, had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs.

The protestors' male relatives were also prevented from travelling out of the country for six months.