Saudi women can drive at last, but only in cyberspace

Saudi women can drive at last, but only in cyberspace

Saudi Arabian women are to be allowed to take to the road — but only in a video game developed by a member of the royal family.

Saudi Girls Revolution, set in a mythical corrupted Arabian empire, stars sabre-wielding female motorcyclists. It has been developed by Na3m, the brainchild of Prince Fahad bin Faisal Al-Saud, 31, the Stamford-educated grandson of the Saudi king’s brother.

“If we can tell people stories about women driving, maybe it will actually happen,” said the prince, who launched Facebook in Arabic in 2009. In Saudi Arabia, women face fines or imprisonment for driving.

The game — which is unusually subversive for the strictly conservative Sunni country — involves eight women rising up against tyrannical rulers of a post-apocalyptic world while racing souped-up motorcycles, Na3m said.

It is based loosely on the landscape of Saudi Arabia and features Riyadh, the only city that escapes the fictional war. The characters battle baboon kings, crystal giants, fire dancers, and zombie soldiers. The 35-second teaser for the game, which will be released at the end of the year, stars a defiant fighter dressed in a flowing abaya with her hair uncovered.

Although it is not technically illegal for women to drive, the oil-rich kingdom does not grant licences to women.

In December, two women were referred to a terrorism court for defying the driving restriction. The pair, part of a social media campaign against the ban, were released in February.