Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s AwakeningARC received from: Netgalley

Rating: 5*

One-Sentence Summary: Growing up as a woman in Saudi Arabia

Review: This book gave a fascinating insight into what of the most paradoxical countries in the world – on the one hand there are Saudis competing who can drive the most expensive car and buying into all kinds of Western ideals, on the other hand they won’t even recognise women as being their own person and not in need of a male “guardian” to speak for them.

I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t know too much about Saudi Arabia. What I knew was a balance of the stereotyping I hear in the media and a friend trying to tell me it’s not as oppressive there as the media makes out any more. I think the media got it right for once!

One of the most fascinating things for me was learning that Saudi Arabia went the opposite way to nearly every other country out there: instead of becoming more open and less oppressive in the mid-end 90’s, it actually became more dictatorial and it was the younger generation that forced religious extremism on their parents.

Manal al-Sharif gives a very honest description of what she went through as a child from regular beatings from her father to female circumcision. Her change from religious extremism to fighting for women’s rights was really fascinating to read. Hardly any of us can fathom how anyone could get imprisoned for the crime of being a woman driver. A real eye-opener and reinforced the belief that even if could travel there (which I can’t), I wouldn’t want to.

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