Here’s Why People Are Taking Issue With This Vogue Cover Featuring A Saudi Princess Driving A Car

The driving ban in Saudi Arabia is set to be lifted this month.

Vogue Arabia is facing backlash after featuring a Saudi princess in the driver seat of a car on their cover.

The controversial move comes after 11 women’s rights activists were detained in Saudi Arabia last month for being at the forefront of a campaign to end the gendered driving ban.

The issue celebrating the “trailblazing women of Saudi Arabia” is in anticipation of the Kingdom’s June 24 removal of the ban on women drivers.

The cover shows the Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud in the driver’s seat of a convertible wearing leather gloves, high heels and a loose headscarf above the headline “Driving Force”.

“This month, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is putting women in the driving seat — and so are we,” Vogue said in its announcement of the cover. The Princess spoke to Vogue about her support for the proposed change:

In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. For many, it’s all they have known. Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm.

However, social media users and campaigners blasted the magazine cover as being tone deaf towards the campaigners that were detained.

It has been reported by Amnesty International that 4 of the 11 women detained have now been released. Until the lifting of the ban, only men were allowed licences and women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.

Because of this strict law, many families had to pay to employ private drivers to help transport female relatives. The ban on driving is only one example of the many areas of life where women in Saudi Arabia have their human rights denied. Women are still unable to travel, engage in paid work or higher education, or marry without the permission of a male guardian.