Bike commuters in Saudi Arabia

This video reporting on bike commuters in Dammam, Saudi Arabia is fascinating on so many levels. It’s in Arabic, but English subtitles are available.



Khalid Alsaqabi, who I think produced this video, says he commutes by bike so there’s more room on the road “so elders can commute with ease using cars.” In other words, he seems to selflessly recognize the benefit of “one less car” for other users of the road.

I’ve heard of the fatalistic attitude many Muslim Arabians have about personal safety. Alsaqabi articulates this to some degree with repeated invocations that his safety is in the hands of Allah. But he adds, “Bicycle driving has its influence on your safety when you are on the road. The more you are visible to traffic and in the middle of your lane, the more your safety increases.”

Alsaqabi’s young protege Abdulaziz notes that “The bicycle has more right than the car to use the road. The bicycle is weaker than the car; the car is heavy and the source of accidents and troubles. In Sharia law, the right belongs to the weaker first, before the strong.”

He continues on this fascinating train of thought: “Giving Salaam (peace) is the responsibility of pedestrians over those who are static, and the responsibility of drivers over pedestrians. Roads are the rights of pedestrians first, not cars. Weakest, then the weaker, then the strong. Pedestrians, cyclists, mopeds, motorcyclists, buses, and — lastly — cars! What is common is that roads are for cars and this is against Islam and logic!”

Via Clarence.

8 Comments

  • Rebecca Roush
    August 19, 2013 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    The lack of women bicycling speaks louder than words. This video should have been called “Male Bike commuters in Saudi Arabia.”

  • August 19, 2013 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I thought about mentioning the complete invisibility of women in open Saudi society. That’s impossible to read from a sample size of two, though of course the inequity is common knowledge.

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2013 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Although Rabbeca, women are NOT forbiden or band from cycling in Saudi, or is stereotyping becoming a habit.

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2013 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    It would be inappropriate to assume western women cyclists are as those in Queens Music Video ” I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride it well”. … Never stereotype.

  • August 20, 2013 - 4:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this great blog! I really appreciate it. You digged the best part of our mission in Aljariyat in your wonderful post.
    The Video was produced by Aljariyat group @aljariyat, not by our friend Khalid Alsaqabi.
    Our mission is well presented in the video on commuting by bike and facing and solving problems facing this change, including our vision on how traffic laws should be written.

    Please allow me to answer some of the notes:
    Commuting by bike is perceived to be a very dangerous activity and we face alot convincing people that it is a safe activity. Perceiving Arab Muslims to be fatalistic is probably a notion taken from news stereotypes. But if it were true, I think cycling would grow much faster.

    Worshiping Allah unceasingly and invoking his name is a natural practice by many Muslims, even when they eat, or even before or after going to sleep or enter/exit rest rooms, or even riding a bike.

    With low number of men riding, even if women rode bikes it would be nearly impossible to have the permission to capture videos of them, our brothers Abdulaziz and Khalid would surely love to make their wives on bikes, but I hardly doubt that they will allow our group to video tape it! It is Privacy as its best in Saudi culture, and I hope women will catch on the trend by riding in shaa Allah.

  • Abdulilah
    August 20, 2013 - 5:50 am | Permalink

    Women can cycle but not to go anywhere: they must be in parks, covered up, accompanied by a male relative

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2013/apr/03/saudi-women-allowed-to-cycle

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2013 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    No woman has ever been stopd go cycle in Saudi

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