Middle East

Royal Brunei Airlines’ first all-female pilot crew lands in Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden from driving

Photo: Royal Brunei Airlines

The pilots are fine to land the plane in Saudi Arabia, but they have to make sure a man picks them up from the airport.

An all-female pilot crew has touched down in Saudi Arabia, highlighting the absurdity of laws preventing women from driving cars.

Once grounded, the Royal Brunei pilots would have risked arrest if they attempted to drive a motor vehicle on the kingdom’s roads.

Having an all-female pilot crew was a massive milestone for Royal Brunei Airlines, but it threw into relief the absurdity of women not being allowed to drive, when they touched down in Saudi Arabia.

To mark Brunei’s National Day, which celebrates the country’s independence, Captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy, Senior First Officer Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Senior First Officer Sariana Nordin flew flight BI081 to the Middle Eastern country on 23 February.

This came three years after Captain Sharifa Czarena Surainy became the first female captain of a flag carrier in Southeast Asia.

In 2012, she told The Brunei Times: “Being a pilot, people normally see it as being a male dominant occupation.

As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement. It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it”.

Last year, women were allowed to stand in elections for the first time in Saudi, and they were able to vote.
Pictures of women in voting stations erupted across social media as they celebrated having this right.

But still women have to be driven by a man if they want to travel anywhere by car.

The kingdom is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving, with Muslim clerics claiming “licentiousness” will spread if women drive.

While there is no specific law to prevent women from driving in Saudi Arabia, women cannot apply for driver licences and they are arrested if found behind the wheel.

The 150-member Shura Council is appointed by the king, drawing on various sectors of society to act as the closest thing to a parliament in the kingdom, though it has no legislative powers. King Abdullah appointed women to it for the first time, and now there are 30 female members.

The driving ban has long forced families to hire live-in drivers for women. Women who can’t afford the £200 to £300 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has long been criticised for its harsh social codes and punishments, imposed under its puritanical version of Sharia law.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in February 2012 when he was just 17 and accused of organising protests. He was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion, along with his uncle, a leading Shia cleric. Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said last month he did not expect the sentence to be carried out. However, murderers, drug dealers and others convicted on purely criminal charges are often beheaded in public.

Womens’ rights:
While women did in 2105 get to register to vote and can stand for local elections, they are still required to have permission from a “guardian” such as a father, husband or brother to travel freely. Wearing modest clothes and a headscarf in public is compulsory. They are also banned from driving – subject of the country’s most visible civil disobedience campaign in recent years.

The regime in Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations.

Saudi Arabia has been compared to Daesh in long time now, especially for their support of terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Hashtags #SueMeSaudi and #SaudiArabiaIsISIS has many hits every minute, and many want to mark their opposition and to show their distance to the brutal dictator regime in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia practice Wahhabism ideology, a strictly fundamentalist orientation within Sunni Islam, which in practice is the state religion in the country. It is also ideology direction that has inspired al-Qaida and DAESH.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

AMCNEWS is not responsible for content on external web pages being linked to.

Reproduction of material from AMCNEWS for use elsewhere is prohibited without prior agreement.

Copyright © 2015. All content is copyrighted. © AMCNEWS. AMCNEWS works by the Code of Ethics rules for good press.

To Top