My Attempt to Break the Driving Ban in Saudi Arabia

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After I was inspired by Manal Al Shirf campaign I asked my brother to teach me how to drive. Back then I was living in Riyadh city. Our teaching sessions have always started on Friday or Thursday mornings that’s when the streets are less busy. After making a good progress my brother started letting me drive to my hometown, the Eastern province, which is about 450 kms away. After we pass the check points we would swap the seats and I would sit behind the wheels and drive. I traveled to China but I came back to Saudi to visit my family 5 weeks ago and I wanted to continue learning.

Every time I drive my brother would sit next to me to give me instructions. I have been driving in the streets of Al Khobar for the last 5 weeks and I never had a problem. I even once went to a drive through coffee shop next to crowded oil station on half moon beach and ordered some coffee and then went to the beach. Some people would give me the V sign and others would just start taking pictures and videos of me while I’m driving!

2 days ago I went out for another training session but this time I wasn’t very lucky, As I was driving in the streets of Al Khobar city  I lost my way and went to the wrong direction, I ended up driving next to the police station! There were few police cars outside driving on the same highway, So I kept slowing down and driving on the right side of the road but my heart was racing. 3 police cars passed and none of them noticed me; there was even one of the police cars on the opposite direction, taking a U turn, the police car was less than 2 meters away but luckily didn’t notice me too.  Suddenly, a speedy police car was driving on the left side of the highway started to slow down dramatically. Apparently, someone has just told the police that there is a woman in the back driving a grand marquis 2007.  The police officer took the right track, slowed down, opened his car window and started looking at us, that’s when I decided to turn on the headlights of the car so the officer won’t see me, and then I started driving on the left track of the highway where most speedy cars go. Obviously, it wasn’t a good idea; they became more suspicious and started chasing after me! They kept asking me to pull over..

I pulled over safely like a pro driver, 2 police officers came to me and one of them said, Mashallah , you clearly can drive! But women are not allowed to drive here, it’s against the law, there is a law from the ministry of interior affairs to punish women who drive ”. I can tell from their accent, one of the police officers is from Najad and the other is southern Saudi. The Najedi officer started asking me questions like what’s your name? where are you from?  Where do you live? Are you Shiite or Sunni? So I answered all his questions but I never said I’m Shiite.

In the beginning the two officers were very cooperative ,they  Said” don’t worry, we will let you go this time,  but since the department of traffic police has been informed  that there is a woman driving on the highway and  they know we stopped you too, so we cannot let you go or lie to them  but when our boss comes we will tell him that you were caught driving inside the nearby neighborhood, we don’t want him to know you were caught driving on the highway, because if we tell him you were caught driving on the highway you will be facing serious punishments, such as confiscation of your vehicle, 10 days behind bars and 5000 SR fee. So my brother and I swapped the seats, he followed the police to a nearby neighborhood and stopped the car there, we made the  scene perfect before the arrival of their boss.

As we are waiting for the other police cars to come, the Najdi police officer took my ID card to see my full name. Al Najjar is either a western Saudi name or eastern Saudi name and I had an eastern accent.  Knowing that the majority of people who are from eastern province are Shiite, the police became suspicious, so he asked me again ”are you Shiite?” But I refused to answer him, so he took my brother outside the car and asked him if he was Shiite and my brother said yes. We just knew the Najedi officer was up to no good.

An Hour later, another 2 police car and 4 police officers came. One of the police officer looked older than the others with a higher rank, he was clearly the boss, he came to me and asked me if I I was driving on the highway and I sticked to the plan and said’ No, I was driving inside the neighborhood’. However, The Najadi Officer started shouting at us calling us liars and that I was caught driving on the highway. His mate kept silent, I can tell he was shocked too.

Now saying I was driving in the neighborhood was not my plan at all, it was actually the police officers plan. but, The Najadi officer turned against us after he knew we were Shiite.

He drove the police car behind us inside a nearby neighborhood to make the scene perfect before the arrival of his boss. He also made us lie to his boss and then he started shouting at us calling us liars!! What’s even worse is that the Najdi officer told his boss that his mate was trying to help us and let us get away with it.

After about 2 hours of questioning, the 2 police cars left, They told us wait with the police. We kept waiting for another 30 minutes inside the car, they 2 police officers who stopped us kept waiting for us too. But then after a while the southern police officer gave me back my ID card he said it’s okay you can go now.

My brother and I went home, this time my brother was driving. The southern police officer later called me on the phone telling me was punished because his mate who turned against us told his boss that his mate was trying to help up!

I am not afraid of breaking the driving ban again; I will get a driving license first and will drive again.

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The Forever Bond

I have 3 brothers that I love very much. Every one of them is unique and special. They look very different as if they were not related to each other, they act different they even have different accents because they lived in different places.

Growing up apart didn’t impact our relationship negatively. It’s not that mom and dad are divorced, but they both worked in different regions so we had to live apart for over 12 years. We barley go out in picnic together. However, once we meet we would talk for hours and hours about everything to catch up.

Abdulhakeem, He is 24 years old and he is happily married for over a year now. He always wanted to be pro break dancer, but of course he can’t study dancing in Saudi. He ended up studying chemical Engineering and now he is working for one the largest companies in the country.  He is My Super-hero; he is very protective, understanding and calm. He is a man who I would call for an advice. We share dark secrets and lovely memories of our childhood.  He is very caring and loving person. I still remember when I went out playing in the back yard of my grandmother’s house without wearing my shoes, I couldn’t walk nor stand on the hot floor, I was crying for help because it was very hot and sunny that day and it felt as if I was standing on burning coal. My superman Abdulhakeem came right away bare-footed for the rescue, even though he knew it was too hot for him too. 

Sometimes I would have flash back memories of him waiting for me to get back from the kinder garden. The school bus use to stop about  6 meters away from my home and Abdulhakeem would wait outside for me so he would carry me home because he didn’t want me to walk  when it’s too hot and almost 50 degrees out there. 6 meters is not so long but he was so caring and gentle.  I was 5 and he was only 7 and no, I wasn’t slim as a child, I was a bit chubby: D. 

 Dad and Mom keep telling me the story of the horror movie over and over again, they say I was in the living room and the TV was on, Dad was playing a horror movie and I was sitting there crying because I was scared, Abdulhakeem heard me crying and came right away covered my eyes, hugged me and took me far enough to feel safe.

It’s not that we had a perfect relationship, of course we fought many times  but I mostly remember the good times. When I turned 19 years old Abdulhakeem taught me how to invest my money in the stuck market to become financially independent. Unfortunately, we still don’t see each other much since we live over 500 km away from each other but the bond is still strong and unbreakable.

Mohammad, He is 18 years old and he is very shy person, loves football, he is mad about martial art and he is amazing self taught piano player. He looks very Asian and he has a body similar to Bruce Lee’s, I have a half-naked picture of him showing off with his ab muscles and biceps that I might post it later.  He studied Taekwondo and he has iron body. I like competing with him. I am not so good when it comes to football but I enjoy playing with him. I am studying Kung fu now so sometimes we would compete against each other, train or even teach each other different skills.

We have very close relationship, he is my favorite brother and I am his favorite sister.

We have so many things in common, we both love martial art and mostly kung fu even though he did Taekwondo, but it’s because he couldn’t find kung fu school. We both love classical music, he plays classical piano and I play classical guitar and we both love animals very much, especially cats. The picture that comes to my mind the most is us holding hands, because this is what we do the most when we are together. We would talk, play video games and watch movies all night long and I would never feel bored, he is so much fun to be with and I really enjoy his company. Sometimes I am a bit tough with him because I want to bring the best in him, I use to teach him how to write in Arabic beautifully and when he can’t do what I ask him to do I would punish him really hard and would make him write over 10 pages of a paragraph. he became the best Arabic font artist in his school. I do regret being a little too tough with him but knowing that all the hard work eventually paid off is rewarding.

Ramy, we always call him Rambo because he is a survivor. He survived an open heart surgery at the age of 4. He is 14 years old now and he is very tall and strong. He has great sense of humor, he makes fun of annoying things to make us laugh when we are about to explode in anger. He is  always helping mom in the kitchen, Mom says that Rambo do  house chores more than everyone ales. He loves fishing and biking. Rambo’s passion is children; he wants to be surrounded by a lot of cute children. I believe he is going to be a really great father, he loves children and he takes care of them very well. Ramy and I didn’t have a good relationship at the beginning because he was extremely spoiled, arrogant and bossy, he gets everything he wants. Dad spoiled Ramy too much that all my younger siblings were jealous of him. Ramy is so different now but he still have anger management issue but he is trying to change. I like tickling him until he turns blue and no longer can breathe.  I know it’s a bit cruel but I only do the ” tickling attack punishment” when he miss-behave.

This is Hala’s Idea, I was supposed to post it yesterday since the deadline Thursday 26th of Aug. I apologize for being late.

This post is a shared idea post on sister-brother relationships in Saudi Arabia, Participating blogs  to follow soon on this topic are:

Hala in USA

My world and more

Saudi Woman blog

Najla

Feda