Saudi women stand at the entrance of a shopping mall, in this November 7, 2013 file photo. (AFP)
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Around 64 percent of Saudi women are unaware of their right to travel inside the Kingdom without obtaining the approval of their guardians, local media reported, quoting a recently published study.
Similarly, the study found that 59 percent of Saudi men were oblivious that women are allowed to travel domestically without the prior consent of guardians.
The study, which was conducted by Khadija bint Khuwailid Center for Businesswomen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was designed to measure public opinion regarding Saudi women’s participation in national development and the problems facing them in the labor market.
Around 3,000 male and female individuals above 18 years old were randomly selected from 11 cities across the Kingdom to participate in the study.
The study also found that 66 and 70 percent of women and men respectively strongly rejected the idea of women traveling without their guardian’s consent.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Suleiman Al-Yahya, director-general of
the Passport Department, said the department has no intention of canceling travel permits for women.
The only exception will be made for women abroad on scholarship, he said.
Citizens living abroad will no longer need to employ paperwork agents or visit passport offices and will instead be able to use the Abshir online system.
“This online system is fully protected from hacking attempts,” he said.
The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, has promised to implement an e-linkage project between the Social Affairs, Justice and Commerce Ministries.
“Citizens find it easy to criticize system shortcomings because they are oblivious to the amount of work undertaken by the department in enhancing performance and expanding services,” he said. “The mediator phenomenon will soon disappear.”
“There are 500,000 Saudi citizens living in Egypt and 150,000 living in Kuwait,” said Ambassador Osama Al-Sanousi, undersecretary for Consular Affairs.
“The ministry, however, does not have accurate statistics about the number of Saudis living permanently in other countries because of the absence of a mechanism to monitor such figures,” he said. “As such, Saudis living abroad should register at the local embassies in the countries in which they reside.”
“In addition, Saudis living abroad should refrain from discussing sensitive topics and should only answer questions in the presence of a lawyer in the event of arrest,” he said.
“Embassies are tasked with bailing out their citizens and protecting them getting into prison,” said Al-Sanousi.