Some Lesser Known Facts About Loujain Alhathloul
- She was born into a family from Qassim, which is one of the kingdom’s most conservative regions.
- She has spent most of her childhood in France and had her upbringing in a socially liberal family.
- Since her college days, she was inclined towards doing something for the Saudi Women.
- She shared that her journey as a campaigner started in 2012 when she was just exploring an app called “Keek”, which allows one to shoot and post 30-second videos. She became inquisitive about what other Saudis upload and other people’s reaction to it on Twitter. One day, she read a statement by a woman she followed, which said ‘Saudi Women are stripped of their identity,’ and that pinched her to do something for them.
- After all this, she joined Keek and started uploading videos of her head uncovered and revealing her tribal name. Here’s one of her videos on Keek asking for people about their viewpoint on women’s driving:
- Soon, she became an Internet sensation by having views on her videos of around 5 million people.
- Loujain came up with the idea of “Women to Drive Movement;” as she was of the thought that this would unlock the liberation of Saudi Women.
- She was then invited by a group of campaigners including Manal al-Sharif and Wajeha al-Huwaider to join them in their movement, which was first organised in the early 1990s.
- She then published a video with the slogan “Women’s Driving is a Choice, not a Requirement”, which meant that no women would be forced to drive if the ban was lifted and it grossed over 30 million views.
- Just two days before the launch of the movement i.e. 21 October 2013, she came to Riyadh from Canada because of the criticism she has to face, which implied that she is creating risks for other women by sitting safely in Canada.
- She became a figure of the movement when she took the car keys from her father on the airport and drove it to her house. Later, his father was called by the ministry of the interior to ensure that his daughter would no longer use his car.
- In March 2014, she joined Sky News Arabia as Social Media Specialist and handled all the social media handles owned by the channel.
- She tied the knot with the stand-up comedian Fahad Albutairi in 2014, and a few days after her marriage, she secretly drove to the Saudi border and demanded to enter it.
- On 1 December 2014, she was arrested and detained for 73 days for her attempt to cross the border from UAE to Saudi Arabia.
- When she was relieved, she was asked to sign a pledge stating that she would not speak out about women driving anymore. Wittily, she agreed by saying only “in videos” not on Twitter.
- From 2015 to 2016, she worked at Talat School as a Quality Assurance, where she used to interpret and implement quality assurance standards based on NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
- Her campaigns continued after that, but she never drove again on Saudi streets.
- In September 2016, she, along with 14,000 others, signed an appeal asking for the male guardianship system to be abolished to King Salman.
- Here’s a video of an interview with The Economist, she talks about the charges that were imposed on her, her driving lessons, and many thing worth-knowing:
- Right to Drive was later granted by the king, and her focus got shifted towards other demands like targeting male guardianship over women, which compels women to seek male consent for all sort of activities like travelling, obtaining a passport, etc.
- She has also worked as a consultant at UNESCO.
- Loujain is multilingual and comfortable with Arabic, French, and English.
- On 15 May 2018, she, along with nine others, was arrested from her home and the reason is still not clear.
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