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10 things women still can’t do in Saudi Arabia

Royal decree recently issued by King Salman of Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive in the Kingdom, making it a historic move that was not only appreciated in the country as well as across the globe.

The issue had been a debate point for years with critics saying Saudi women suffer under the Kingdom’s male guardianship system, which gives a woman’s husband, son or father control over almost all aspects of her life.

King Salman and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman have implemented “Vision 2030”, a long-term blueprint of economic and social reforms designed to modernise Saudi Arabia and wean itself off  reliance on oil revenue.

Here are some of the decisions that women cant take independently in the KSA, according to reports from the KSA.


Saudi women marry

Permission to marry must be granted by your guardian. Women who seek to marry foreigners must obtain approval to do by the ministry of interior, and marriage to non-Muslims is so difficult as to be impossible.


Saudi women travel

Passports and identification cards must be obtained with the permission of a male guardian. Women are usually also not allowed to leave the home alone.


Open a bank account

women bank account saudi

While there are now a few jobs women in the Kingdom are allowed to do without male permission, such as working as shop assistants or at fairgrounds, they are not allowed to have their own bank account to control their finances without permission.

Interact with men 

Saudi gender

Conversations and time spent with men who are not family members is limited. In public, restaurants, universities and other spaces have both a ‘family’ section and a section reserved for men.


Get a fair trial

saudi women trial

The testimony of a woman is only worth half a man’s in Saudi Arabia’s legal system. Women also only receive half the inheritance their brothers are entitled to.

Dress according to their wish

Saudi women dress

“Dressing for beauty” is illegal, and modest clothing and make up encouraged.

Full length abayas – a long coat worn over other clothes – must be worn by all women in public, although in recent years rules over the colour, decoration and how headscarves are worn have  been relaxed.

Seek important medical treatment

Saudi women hospital

Even life-saving operations and procedures require the written signature of a male relative.

Have custody of children

saudi women children

In cases of divorce, women are only allowed custody of their children until they reach the age of seven (boys) and nine (girls).

Have national identification card

women ID card saudi

Apply for a national identification card or passport without the permission of a male guardian.

Eat at restaurants without separate family section

women restaurant saudi

Women are not allowed in KSA to eat at restaurants that don’t have a separate designated family section. Most restaurants have a “family” section with a divider that separates families from dining near all-male parties. Women are also required to use a separate entrance to the men. It is usually a side door.



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