Middle East

Saudi wastes no time to rap at the wheel

Leesa A released a music video of her rapping behind the wheel on the day the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was lifted Image copyright Leesa A
Image caption Leesa A released a music video of her rapping behind the wheel on the day the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was lifted

Women have been allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia for less than a week but this young rapper and director wasted no time.

Singer Leesa A took social media by storm when she released a music video of her rapping at the wheel of a car on the day the ban on women driving was officially lifted.

"I don't need anyone to take me... Drivers' licence with me," she sings defiantly to the camera, sitting in the driver's seat of a Hyundai.

Until the law officially changed on 24 June, women in Saudi Arabia could not drive and families had to hire private chauffeurs for female relatives.

The end of the decades-old ban was announced last September and the first licences were issued earlier this month.

Leesa A, who previously had a relatively small social media presence, posted her video on Instagram and YouTube where it has attracted more than 1.6 million views combined.

She is filmed driving, pressing the accelerator, changing the gears, all the while rapping: "Yo, you seem to be forgetting that today is the 10th, this means there no taxis," referring to the date of 24 June in the lunar-based Islamic calendar.

"I am not kidding, today I can drive myself. The steering wheel in my hands, the pedal under my foot... I put the seat belt over my abaya [a loose robe often worn by Saudi women in public]," she continues.

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A tweet sharing the video has been liked almost 300,000 times and shared more than 104,000 times.

"Saudi Arabia gave women permission to drive and this is the first thing they do," wrote Twitter user @lkigai.

The lifting of the ban was met with jubilation by many in the conservative country, with videos of women driving widely shared.

However, others tempered the celebrations by pointing to other restrictions on women's rights, notably male guardianship laws. At least eight activists who campaigned for the right to drive were detained ahead of the change in law.

Leesa ends her rap by offering lifts to passengers but warns: "Be careful not to slam the door, because if you slam the door, I'll tie you up with the seatbelt."

By Georgina Rannard, BBC UGC & Social News

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