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Saudi Arabia Lifts Cycling Ban for Women

Pressures region into promoting feminism

| Written by wardzeyada

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 16:39

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Saudi Arabia has surprisingly announced that women will be able to ride bicycles in certain designated areas throughout the country. The controversial decision appears to be a result of pressures from the international community to refrain from using the term "it" when referring to a female.

Women in the Gulf kingdom are prohibited from driving, voting, sneezing in public, and watching Egyptian satellite channels. However, gender segregation has all but diminished, thanks largely to the overwhelming employment opportunities, and the evermore liberal dress code. The days of subtle differences between the sexes are gone; now women can dress in colors (choice of green and black), use Arabic words not mentioned in the Qur'an, and, starting anytime within the next eight years, ride bicycles in certain areas.

Indeed, equality between the sexes has been compared to the likes of Sweden and Switzerland. One minor difference, however, is that Saudi Arabia has successfully progressed while conserving its cultural heritage, with quaint traditions such as lashing women with spiked whips for secretively shaving their legs still common place.

The senior spokesman for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Nifaq El Feil, expanded on the historical development: "We have reached a point where we are no longer fighting for gender equality - we have now become pioneers of feminism, a true role model for countries across the Arab world and beyond."

The process of cycling will be as simple and straightforward as starting an independent newspaper. Any woman desiring to embrace the privilege will only need to visit the local council's sheikh with a mehrem (husband, father, brother, etc.) and fill out an application to take the "piety test" to ensure that cycling will not lead to improper practices. Depending on the result, she will be granted a permit to ride her bicycle in designated areas. Permit renewal is only necessary on a bi-monthly basis.

The decision has of course had its detractors. The small minority of religious extremists in the country are concerned that granting women substantial freedom in such little time would inevitably lead to unethical behavior, possibly even free thinking. Pamphlets issued by the opposition include images such as the one shown here to prove that positions taken and motions involved in riding a bicycle are inherently seductive. Another serious worry is that the obligatory abaya (traditional clothing) could get caught in gears or wheels, harming the women, but more significantly, exposing their bodies to the general public.

Mr. El Feil added that he knew such an unprecedented transition into the future was never going to be a smooth ride, but is confident of the results nonetheless. "Do you think Gandhi achieved peace in Sri Lanka in one day, or one year?" he rhetorically questioned. "It takes years of constant hard work, faith in God, and oil money."

Saudi Arabia has come a long way from the "ignorance" era prior to the arrival of Islam. It seems like a case of the turtle beating the hare as the entire Arab world is left under immense pressure to improve gender equality, with its neighbours, indeed much of the world, struggling to catch up.

Ran Dom Gal

Mon, 11/23/2009 - 12:05

I just had a coupla random thoughts popping inside my head when I read the comments on the AWESOME article...

- Does anyone of the dear readers posting their comments here ride a bike for fun or sport?

- Did anyone try riding a bike with Abaya?

- Is everybody ok with the name of the Saudi Minister? (I find it hilarious!!)

With all do respect to everybody, including the poor model in the picture, I think only girls who suffer random butt slaps (or other violations) in the streets of some Arab cities (when they walk down a street) just because their hair is not covered and those who are practicing or wish to practice cycling are allowed to comment.

People, be good sports... Ride a bicycle!!


Tue, 12/01/2009 - 23:40

Lol at Nifaq El Fil!!!

Karim Elmansi

Sat, 12/05/2009 - 11:58

It is quite funny how most of the criticism in the comments is focused on the PHOTO! lol. Rather than the content of the article ....

I suggest the writers should use a black marker pen to hide the unnecessarily revealed body parts of the female on a bike, for the following reasons:

1- obviously people see the picture and jump to conclusions without reading the picture... i mean the article.

2- It raises the expectations.

3- photos like this one has a strong positive correlation to divorce rate.

4- Ever since the photo was put on, traffic to the Koshary today website has suspiciously increased from certain parts in the arab world.. especially late at night.

A nony mouse

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 15:00

Can I apply for the position of writing the comments? Most of these are too precious to be sent by anyone other than an El Koshary employee.

Pilot JOJO

Thu, 12/17/2009 - 16:05

Dear ALL

Sterotyping, racisim ...withall da above..etc comes under one thing: when we cant control ourselves we seek 2 control other i.e. coz saudi men cant control dem selves or say NO or wot eva... they seek after controling Women..sick..
have da power 2 make choices in da 21st century...

Pilot JOJO

Thu, 12/17/2009 - 16:09

its honestly simple coz saudi men cant control dem selves dey seek 2 control da dosent need politics 2 understnad wot a 5 year old wud understand...


Wed, 12/23/2009 - 15:27

reading the article.. it more about the gender issues. and not about.who right or wrong. it about equality. giving perment to ride a bike by the king or officer of the kingdom. its like base less to me. all the problem in the world now. it come to this. especially in saudi. its very hot. saudi is a rich country. give them a car. at least it good for them to give them perment to drive a car. it a laughing matter to give a person. a perment to ride a bike. there no country in the world, i know, who give a perment to ride a bike. its insulting for person in power.


Sun, 01/17/2010 - 10:47

I once read this in a famous comics website:
"Fun game: try to post a YouTube comment so stupid that people realize you must be joking. (Hint: this is impossible)"

It seems that applies here, too.


Fri, 01/22/2010 - 14:25

I love the sh;;; about Gundhi, very funny , Atlast are these woman aloud to cycle on the roads or should they peddle up in the sky, I just made a wild imagination...shoo...t your are damn funny man, makarona way to go....

Feel El Neel

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 03:54

This is way too funny. I love the diversity of comments. But I do think people are taking this way too seriously, but then again why not take it seriously? It's a perfect opportunity for everyone to try and cram their opinions in, it's an imposing fiesta and Narcism at it's best; some people think that by posting a comment, not only will they reassess their self importance in another opportunity to blab, but they will also make the writer of the article change his own perception on what he wrote and his beliefs as a whole we yerage3 nafsso. Either way, before this turns from an observation to being preachy, I love what you guys are doing, keep it up. And Amr: awesome sense of humor, I hear hurting people is bad too, maybe we checked the same source.

Bou Aliyya

Sat, 03/27/2010 - 15:28

Oh dear - Amr ...

We all know that western people have no ethics, live like animals, and are secretly planning to conquer the world (again!) and spend all their time trying to find ways to corrupt us and our religion. I think it is because they are jealous.

If that's the way you think, I worry about you. Seems to me you're the kind of guy who would rape me just because I'm 'western' and so deserve it!

Just as a point of interest, have you ever stopped to consider how Mohammed (SAW) would view this article? Personally, I believe he'd laugh from here to next Thursday....


Sat, 04/10/2010 - 02:23

Guys keep doing this
For one ignore all those idiots who complain, chat shit and have no sense of humor at all.

If you think about it the 'West' as u call it are islam min 3'eir muslimeen
And arab countries muslimeen min 3'eir islam.
ESPECIALLY saudi arabia.
I know thats not every one and there are plenty of good people. But thats the truth of it if u think about it.

And the wasted person who suggested that westerners live like animals, your an ignorant disgrace.


Thu, 06/17/2010 - 15:04

Guys, since some of you still haven't figured it, I thought I'd let you know that Amr was also being satirical in his post.

Saudi Arabia

Sat, 12/04/2010 - 12:37

Recent Phenomenon: More and more Female babies are now born with `abayas' - this is a miracle. I guess we are born as God has intended us to be!

Newsflash: The 72 virgins are still virgins, because in heaven all males are impotent (revelation: I can't imagine people thinking of sex in heaven)

Dresscode in Heaven: Nudity (As natural as you came into this world & because everyone is so spiritual there is no physical desire - so, no need for abayas and burkhas)

I hope you enjoyed my humour :)

Love, Light & Laughter


Mon, 01/10/2011 - 18:54

i love it how the simple minds get provoked by the most simple things.
funny article, i loved it :D


Fri, 01/21/2011 - 05:18

You just made my day Ward. Haven't laughed this hard for weeks, thank you.


Thu, 02/10/2011 - 01:08

Love this. HILARIOUS! especially all the commenters who don't get it <3


Sat, 06/04/2011 - 19:45

Could somebody explain satire to poor old Syed. Please.

Y a h y a

Tue, 06/21/2011 - 07:47

This is quite nice: all Saudi girls are not chained to home: they have helpers and enjoy life. My home has mall day three times a week. Wife has lady friends over quite often. My problem- if I get wife bicycle, then what of the helpers- I don't want to look at 25 bicycles in my garden. And, yes; what if the helpers decide to cycle to different home and find happier work. My children become sad.

The picture is in poor taste.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 01:45

Great humor , funny article, funny pic! Some people like Amr above are too sensitive and can not appreciate satire, he shouldn't come here, he ruins it for us who do appreciate satire.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 04:45

I just stumbled upon this piece, mainly because it's about my country. I am a first time reader of El Koshary, and on a first thought, it appears to be a cheap copy of The Onion.
Upon reading the title I thought: here we go again, another rant against Saudi Arabia from a bitter, jealous, and hateful Arab who can't be happy, and blame all their problems on people of the Gulf.
I haven't read any other post, but judging from the satirical style of writing, again, a staple of The Onion, I trust that you are an equal-opportunity offender and not biased against a certain country because of political/religious/materialistic baggage.
I find this article to be hilarious. I'm a full blooded Saudi and I love my country to death with all of its imperfections. But on the other hand, it's healthy not to take ourselves seriously all the time, and just chill and laugh. Sarcasm is just what the doctor recommended. I applaud you, and I will return to EKT soon.

Oh and a quick tip for some readers: please do not take this chance to utter hateful comments against Saudis or yourselves (which tends to happen a lot apparently) and remember this is in all good fun. There are plenty of political discussion platforms in which you can profess your ideologies and what not. Let's try to have a laugh and be more civilized.

Prude Atheist

Tue, 11/15/2011 - 22:25

I am really starting to wonder why almost all of your articles have to do with sex or incorporate it somehow. I guess Westerners have gotten the point where they can find things other than sex amusing. Also, why don't you have new articles? Couldn't think of anything new to make fun of?

I think your website is not funny because you try way too hard. Sometimes you don't need to pull out clubs and beat people over the heads with them in order to get a laugh. If you just pinch a little, I promise, we'll feel it.


Tue, 12/06/2011 - 23:25

not funny, you're just embarassing muslims


Sun, 01/01/2012 - 23:00

Dear Sayed, your thoughtful and deliberative comment, needs a rebuttal on behalf of all civilized men and women everywhere.

"Allowing to ride a cycle does not mean taking off your cloths.
you could have placed a picture of women either japan,china, indonesia or malaysia riding a cycle. but since you are sick minded influenced by the dirty disgusting culture of united states your aim is only to portray a wrong image of islam.

May Allah have mercy on you"

The comment bespeaks a level of self-piety bordering on the absurd. Grow a pair and get a sense of humor.... the world needs a bit more humor, wouldn't you agree? If you can not distinguish the author writing commentary that is tongue in cheek, from imperious self-aggrandized conformity, on subjects that have real impacts on individuals, then you are heartless and lack the compassion that Allah would want you to have for your brothers AND your sisters. Peace be with you, brother.

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