With Saudi Arabia finally allowing women to drive in June of 2018, it’s no secret that gender equality has been an issue throughout the Middle East for many years. However, it’s important to recognize that times are changing – especially when it comes to driving. With more Arab women than ever before riding motorcycles, it’s important to keep in mind that biking in the Middle East varies from country to country, though one thing remains certain: this is just the beginning when it comes to improving gender equality.
Saudi Arabia – there are still restrictions
Even though Saudi women got the green light to finally get behind the wheel just last year, many have already signed up for their motorcycle lessons and licenses. While many women have a passion for riding, the laws are still restricting, as they require that a male relative must give their permission for a woman to get behind the handlebars. Not to mention that women new to biking must learn the necessary safety precautions, pay the fees associated with driving lessons, and be fully aware of all the options before buying a bike.
All-women’s biker club in Kuwait
In Kuwait, a country with many female bikers, an all-female bikers club called the Moto Lady Club is working to bust the stereotype that biker women are involved in gangs. The club allows passionate female bikers to ride with women who share the same love for biking, and is known for being the first of its kind in the Gulf. In an interview with Vice, Tyan says that the club is welcomed and respected by men – which just goes to show how accepting the country is of the idea of a woman getting behind the handlebars. In fact, Kuwait even encourages International Female Ride Day, a day devoted to celebrating female bikers.
Biking in Dubai
Women in Dubai are also busting those stereotypes, as many take to the road on Harley Davidsons. In fact, one woman named Sabah Mukri made history when she became the first woman to compete in the UAE Sportbike Championship at the Dubai Autodrome in 2016. With a strong sense of community amongst female bikers, there are many events suited for any female biker, from the annual Dubai Motorbike Festival to motorcycle tours.
While biking for women is different all throughout the Middle East, it’s important to realize that many improvements have been made, though there is still more to be done. Luckily, more and more Arab women are able to ride bikes as the message of gender equality is shared.