The former wife of Saudi billionaire prince Al Waleed bin Talal says she has been driving her mini Cooper through Europe and expects a long-standing ban on driving by women in Saudi Arabia to be lifted.
Ameerah Al Taweel, 31, told the British ‘Daily Mail’ online that she would use her influence to have that ban removed following protests by female activists in the world’s largest oil exporter to press the government to allow them to drive cars.
Women have been barred from driving in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, since the establishment of the state in 1932 and earlier this year, a woman reportedly received 150 lashes after being caught behind the wheel.
On Thursday, Saudi police also arrested a Kuwaiti woman caught driving a car in North Saudi Arabia while her father sat next to her. She told police that she went behind the wheel after her father felt unwell and asked her to drive.
“I am confident that with a little bit more pressure – the government will lift the ban shortly….it will be a hugely important step, and it can happen overnight,” said Taweel, who was divorced from her royal husband in 2013.
”I don't believe the ban will go on indefinitely. It will be like the decree calling for 20 per cent of Parliament to be made up of women – a surprising development, but one which happened very rapidly….I believe that it is the generation of young people in Saudi Arabia which is going to accelerate change in the country.”
Of her own driving experiences, Taweel said: “We still can't officially drive in the cities and towns, but I have driven in the desert many times.”
“I have an international licence and drive a Mini Cooper when I am in Europe and America. I do not drive in London or anywhere in the UK, however, because driving on the left is quite confusing.”
Taweel said she married Prince Al Waleed, one of the richest men in the world, a year after she conducted a press interview as a trainee journalist six years ago.
Despite their divorce, the couple remained ‘great friends’ with Taweel describing the Prince as 'my mentor'.
Taweel, whose divorce settlement as the Prince’s fourth wife remains undisclosed, has thrown herself into work – especially philanthropic causes, and her production company, Time Entertainment. She also runs Tasamy in Saudi Arabia, a centre for people who want to volunteer for public service so as to make their country a better place.