As Saudi women get behind the wheel for the first time today, carmakers across the region have been adding their voices to the congratulatory mood
Car companies celebrate Saudi Arabia lifting the ban on women driving
June 24, 2018 will go down in history as the day women got behind the wheel for the first time in the new millennium in Saudi Arabia. Carmakers across the region have understandably been quick to get involved with celebrating the move – here are a selection of the best videos and initiatives:
Ford has commemorated the occasion with a glossy promo featuring images of several Saudi women, throwing their weight behind the move, saying: “Ford Motor Company was built on the belief that freedom of movement drives human progress, and we are thrilled to be part of this historical milestone, and have the opportunity to support women in the kingdom during such an extraordinary time.”
The American manufacturer also released a video of female Ford Middle East employees sharing their advice to the new drivers, culminating in the inspiring words “the road is yours”.
Audi Middle East's contribution is simple but smart, introducing the momentous occasion by showing a Saudi couple leaving their house, with the man chivalrously holding open doors for the woman. Except when they reach their spotlessly clean Audi A7, with a smile, the woman opens the passenger door for the man, then walks round to climb into the driver's seat. “Sometimes history is written. This time, it is driven,” is the motto.
Jaguar Mena put Saudi motorsport driver Aseel Al Hamad in a Jaguar F-Type at the Reem International Circuit in Riyadh, and captured her delight during her first drive in her home country. You can see the genuine happiness and emotion on her face as she jumps out of the car after her dust-kicking dash around the track.
Hyundai eschewed the video treatment in favour of inviting three prominent Saudi influencers who act as its brand ambassadors to its native South Korea: entrepreneur and lifestyle influencer Bayan Linjawi; radio presenter, travel blogger and fashionista Shadia Abdul Aziz; and business owner and fashion career coach Reem Faisal. They were shown around Hyundai's facilities and given a taste of Korean culture. “This is an exciting moment for women and for motoring in Saudi Arabia, and Hyundai is committed to playing an active part in this historic change,” said Mike Song, Hyundai’s head of operations for Africa and the Middle East.
Volkswagen Middle East's 100 Simple Joys of Driving series, meanwhile, is a slightly more elliptical nod to the big day. For example, the 33rd instalment, Overtaking a Long Truck on a Narrow Road, in which a woman in a Saudi-plated VW Golf does exactly what the video implies, is a fitting metaphor for the culmination of a historic journey for women in the kingdom.