Through her Twitter account, Saudi women's rights activist Mariem Al-Otaibi posted a video announcing that she just finished her first day as a driver using the car-hailing application Careem.
Translation: "My experience. Wish me luck guys."
In her video, Mariem happily described her experience as a great one. She also expressed her regret for not trying this sooner, saying that it helped her make more money than her regular job.
In another tweet, Al-Otaibi clarified that she didn't make the decision to drive people to their destinations just for fun, but that being a financially independent woman, she needed the extra money and couldn't think of other options.
Surprisingly, Mariem received lots of support from social media users who saluted her courage. Many women also tweeted their hopes of having the chance to follow her lead and become independent one day.
لكن أنا مش جالسة أعمل في توصيل المشاوير من باب التغيير !!— مريم العتيبي♐️ (@MERiAM_AL3TEEBE) January 9, 2020
فعلاً جالسة أسد الفجوة المادية اللي أعاني منها .
طبعاً مبادئي ما تسمح لي أفكر بعمل غير شريف ولا عندي واسطات ولا يوجد دعم لي من أي شخص غير نفسي ، وهذي قدراتي وماني خجلانه مني بالمرة . https://t.co/J6Z21PG3xW
Translation: "But I'm not doing this to break my routine. I actually need to cover my financial needs. My principles don't allow me to think of immoral means, neither do I have the connections needed to get a better job. I do this unapologetically."
فالك التوفيق وأنتي لها مريم ومتحمسين نسمع منك كيف واجهتي الصعوبات وتغلبتي عليها كما عهدناك دائماً وأيضاً المواقف الطريفة ❤️❤️— حياة (@hayat24h) January 9, 2020
Translation: "I wish you the best of luck, Mariem! You can do it. As usual, we're excited to hear about what you did to break barriers and overcome obstacles. We also want to hear about your funny encounters."
حلو الواحد يعتمد على نفسه— غريب الدار (@aaasa48256921) January 8, 2020
واوبر يعتبر دخل اضافي للجاد يكفيه عن الراتب ويملأ فيه فراغه ، بالتوفيق ..
Translation: "It's great to be in charge of yourself. Uber can grant you some extra money other than the monthly salary and it also fills your time. Good luck."
ممتاز . رائع . مبروك.— فنار (@motaammel5) January 8, 2020
بصراحة انتِ من الناس المفيدين في تويتر ، لانك قاعدة تطرحين تجاربك الجديدة في الحياة، وردود الأفعال عليها اول بأول .
كل التوفيق لك دائما
Translation: "Excellent! Great! Congratulations! Honestly, you're one of the most influential people on Twitter because you discuss your new life experiences and the reactions you receive. Wish you good luck always."
Some social media commentators attacked Al-Otaibi after her video saying that driving strangers "isn't an appropriate job for women" and that women might encounter 'dangerous' customers.
مع احترامي العمل هذا لا يتناسب مع الانثى اطلاقا .. اطلاقا .. ونسبة المخاطرة فيه عاليه .. عمل سائقة اجرة فيه امتهان للمرأه ، ممكن يكون الراكب مدمن مخدرات او متحرش او مجرم .. كيف تتصرفين بهذا الوضع ؟!— Sarah (@Sara3344aa) January 9, 2020
Translation: "With all due respect this can't be a women's job since it is too risky. It's insulting that a woman does this job. What if your customer was a drug addict, a sexual predator or a criminal? What would you do then?"
بالتوفيق..— son-feminism (@bad18777) January 9, 2020
Translation: "Good luck, but don't drive male customers."
Al-Otaibi isn't the first woman driver using ride-sharing applications in Saudi Arabia. Several women have reportedly taken on this opportunity since Saudi women were granted the right to drive in the kingdom in June 2018.
Careem had also launched a special feature for women drivers that enables them to choose only female customers out of safety concerns. According to a press release by Careem, more than 70% of customers in Saudi Arabia are women.
Mariem, who lives in Riyadh has made it to headlines more than once in the last few years, being a vocal activist against male-guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia, and she is followed by more than 100k people on Twitter.
In 2017, Al-Otaibi spent 104 days in jail after her father accused her of 'disobedience', following her involvement in an anti-male guardianship campaign the family disapproved of.
Upon her release in July 2017, Mariem has been leading an independent life, and she shares her thoughts with her followers on twitter regularly.
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