Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening

Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif is internationally known for her role in women's driving rights campaigns. Daring to Drive is a memoir of her life and her transformation from a fundamentalist teenager into a central member of the Saudi women's rights movement.

Al-Sharif grew up poor in Mecca. She was beaten regularly by her parents and teachers. Her Libyan mother insisted that she be genitally mutilated, but also that she be educated through college. Like many of her generation, she internalized the fundamentalism taught to her at school and forced it on her family. But she maintained her love of books and art, college broadened her views and September 11, 2001, "was the date of the complete transformation in my beliefs." After graduation, she went to work for the state-owned oil company Aramco, living and learning to drive inside its multinational, mixed-gender compound. She married and divorced, spent six months working in New Hampshire, went skydiving and took a solo vacation to Puerto Rico. When she turned 32, she joined a feminist driving rights group.

Al-Sharif writes gracefully with great openness and perception. She describes how the restrictions on women frustrate many Saudi men as well--with pointless and often cruel personal and monetary costs--and how Saudi Arabia's repressive rules and acceptance of violence poison both public and private life. Nevertheless, Al-Sharif conveys her love of Saudi Arabia despite everything, and her hopes for a more just and equitable nation. "What has happened to the two fundamental principles of being a Muslim--living in peace and showing compassion?" --Sara Catterall

Powered by: Xtenit