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The state has long-faced protests over its poor record on women’s rights and is facing intense condemnation over its military action in Yemen.
May made it clear she intends to engage with the kingdom rather than ‘standing on the sidelines and sniping’.
But if I have a date upstairs and my family is downstairs, they won’t even come up.” Notorious for its adherence to Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Islam, and as the birthplace of most of the 9/11 hijackers, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that claims sharia, or Islamic law, as its sole legal code.
Yasser, a 26-year-old artist, was taking me on an impromptu tour of his hometown of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a sweltering September afternoon.
The air conditioner of his dusty Honda battled the heat, prayer beads dangled from the rearview mirror, and the smell of the cigarette he’d just smoked wafted toward me as he stopped to show me a barbershop that his friends frequent.
At least 14,000 others signed a petition calling for an end to the highly restrictive law, and an online movement grew under the hashtag #IAm My Own Guardian.
The groundbreaking petition was started and then hand-delivered by activist Aziza Al-Yousef, who was arrested in 2013 for deliberately breaking the country’s ban on women driving.
In December 2015, Saudi women were allowed to vote in municipal elections for the first time.