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Saudi women are getting ready to drive. But are men ready?



Saudi women are getting ready to drive. But are men ready?

It’s just a few weeks now (June 24) until women will legally be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But, attitudes are still divided in the country.

When Saudi announced last year that it would allow women to drive, automotive brands were quick to congratulate them.

Ahead of the law change, Shell Middle East made a revealing film in which a group of men, among them a doctor, a TV personality, a hip-hop artist, an ex-navy officer and an international rollerblader, discuss the implications of women driving.

The men are captured in film sitting in the back of a car being interviewed by the driver about their views. Some are pretty frank. At first, they admit they are ”scared” and claim they are worried about the women’s safety as “driving in Saudi isn’t easy”.

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However, as they discuss the women in their lives, they gradually admit that they are more than capable and have helped them with their own problems through the years. The film concludes with the driver – the interviewer – swapping his place in the car with some of the wives, sisters and daughters, taking the men by surprise.

The film, which was created by M&C Saatchi’s UAE office, was prompted by the overwhelming skepticism demonstrated by many men on social media when the decree was first announced. M&C Saatchi sought to understand the current perceptions and attitudes surrounding the profound change. Insight showed that while women had originally been excited by the decision, many were now feeling intimidated by the doubt surrounding their ability to drive, which had initially been displayed by male audiences.

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Scott Feasey, CEO & Partner at M&C Saatchi, says: “M&C Saatchi lives by the philosophy of ‘Brutal Simplicity of Thought’ and wanted this to resonate in the simple message that women all over the world drive us forward every day; their momentum isn’t limited to just being behind the wheel of a car. We’re thrilled with the film we’ve delivered for Shell Helix, the responses it has prompted, and the impact it already seems to be having on attitudes toward the Royal Decree. We are looking forward to seeing more women behind the wheel and doing more work that drives change.”

Nissan, too, has played around with the concept of bringing Saudi men and women together albeit in a different way.

Having first debuted in early May, the Shell film now has over 3.7 million views.


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