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Bad law automated: E gov in Saudi Arabia

After some time, we at LIRNEasia are beginning to engage again with e gov, which I like to say is an acronym for effective government. So I came across this new service provided by the government of Saudi Arabia where male guardians are sent an SMS by the govt when their wives leave the country. Earlier, it had been necessary for permanently dependent females (i.e., all females) to carry with them a “yellow clip” wherein the guardian had consented to their departure. Now this obnoxious piece of paper has been replaced by an electronic permission that does not require a visit to a government office. An added feature is the SMS.

It would be nice if you could turn off notifications via text messages without losing the convenience of the electronic services, but that does not seem available at the present time. It would be even nicer, of course, if women did not need permissions from their male guardians to travel, but that’s another post.

The problem is not that there is now an electronic system that sends an SMS when women travel. Some people might actually want this service. The problem is that the government is enforcing rules of male guardianships even on the rest of us who don’t believe in such rules. One day, MOI could choose to provide a checkbox in their system that says: “My female relatives don’t need my permission to travel.” That day, unfortunately, has not come yet.

Analysis by a Saudi business woman.

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