Saudi Arabian women tracked at the border with system that SMSes their husbands when they leave the country

Saudi authorities have rolled out an electronic surveillance system for women, which tracks their movements and alerts their husbands by SMS when they attempt to leave the country.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women (via /.)


  1. In one of his finest moments, Ronald Reagan stood just outside East Berlin and told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”! When is someone going to stand up to Saudi Arabia?

    1. I’m sure it’s practically impossible given the ‘fluid’ nature of the oil market; but wouldn’t it be interesting to see the response to a $0.07 more per gallon pump which promised that none of the revenue went to Saudi Arabia (and the intense misogyny therein)?

      1. That would be a very difficult thing to promise with the commodity nature of Oil.  Plus you would you then have to accept Chavez and his dictatorial regime?  Or the horrible environmental costs of Canada’s oil sands?

        Even renewables have problems.  In fact getting the Saudis to treat their women better is far from the hardest problem on the list. 

        1. “Plus you would you then have to accept Chavez and his dictatorial regime?”

          Chavez was elected democratically and enjoys much popular support. The closest Venezuela has come to dictatorship in recent years was in 2002 during a coup attempt (which was likely US-backed). Venezuela is hardly comparable to Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes on Earth.

      2. You’re going to have to buy a plugin hybrid to do that probably, and move closer to work, for reasons other posters already explained. 

    2. As theophrastvs mentioned, oil is highly fungible – every barrel of Saudi oil the U.S. still has to get from another place, and  the Saudis can and will sell it at the unaffected market price.

      For many people, too, cars are a necessity; in the short term, demand for gasoline is inelastic.  (That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t cut back on our oil consumption.)  

      But Reagan could excoriate the Soviet Union for human rights abuses at the same time he lifted the Carter grain embargo (which was ineffective because grain is …yup, fungible.)  Maybe it’s time for the current occupant of the White House to say something, too.

      1. No offense but I call bullshit.  No one is a slave here.  It may take you a few years to work it out, but anyone who chooses not to drive or own a car can do it.  It just depends on whether or not you’re willing to put action behind your belief. 

        1. You’re right — all those truckers, postal service workers, they can all just up and quit!

          …oh, your “anyone” only includes white-collar New Yorkers? That makes more sense, then.

        2. Yes, but do you use goods that are delivered by trucks, trains, ships, or airplanes? All of these need oil. What about products derived from hydrocarbons like plastics? Are you willing to put that type of action behind your belief?

        3. Lots of places have no public transportation. I just went carless not by choice and it’s a pain in the ass even WITH decent bus service. Grocery shopping can’t be done efficiently — see how many sales require you to buy in bulk.

        4. Alright fine. As someone who can’t drive and lives rural. How am I supposed to get from A to B without driving?

          1. There’s also a horse and cart — or a particularly large and non-timid gopher… strap a weasel on to each foot… jetpack… there are always alternatives :)
            (Also: I grew up in a rural area and can’t drive either; I feel your pain.)

          2. Horse/buggy isn’t a bad idea to be honest. Thanks to the Mennonites and Amish there are provisions for that to work. Just. Yea…


    3. Aren’t you also going to suggest that people boycott any product that is shipped using Saudi Oil too? Let’s be realistic perhaps?

  2. If we exploited our alternative energy resources we could take all of these countries who can’t defend themselves to the cleaners. We owe it to ourselves and the world.

      1. It might. Much of the world pressured South Africa to end apartheid, and maybe the same thing could be done to Saudi Arabia. That’s just one idea, but nothing is ever going to get off the ground while the world gorges itself on their oil.

      2. I can’t think of anything the west could do that would help improve the lot of Saudi women. The country is locked up tight, and any suggestions we make for improving women’s rights there is considered an attack on their sovereignty, and an attempt to corrupt their religious values. If there’s going to be any change, it’s going to start from within, and we could only be helpful when enough people ask.

        Attempting to coerce women’s rights is as offensive to the Saudi government as them trying to enforce Sharia law in the U.S. is to us. It’s a non-starter, and is an issue we can’t control for the time being. If the Saudi government were more receptive, and if we were less heavy-handed we might get somewhere.

        It’s a truly sad state of affairs, and I wish the Saudi women luck in their campaigns to gain the freedoms we take for granted in the west. It’s shameful that we can’t really do much to help women, but there’s not much to do other than hope the values of freedom and independence can gain more traction before we can start making more active policies that may work to improve life for them.

        Sorry for being a Debbie downer. If anyone has ideas better than my dim view, I’d love to hear them.

      3. Probably not. The real damage from a reduction on Saudi oil dependence will be felt by the royal family. If they have less money to throw around, they’ll either have to give more power to the religious shake-down artists who prop them up or the same religious shake-down artists will overthrow them. Either way, Wahhabism is really, really, really bad for women.

        That’s not to say the U.S. and other Western nations shouldn’t condemn this particular application of digital technology to medieval ends (one outrageous example among several) and shame the House of Saud for it. But starving those corrupt monarchs of oil revenue, as satisfying as it would be, is not really going to solve the problem.

        1. The House of Saud isn’t the problem, at least not the current reigning member.  King Abdullah has given women the vote, created co-ed learning facilities and pardoned many women who were convicted under unjust laws.  The problem is the Ulema.  If he moves too fast, they’ll depose him in a religious coup.

          1. No, I’m pretty sure that he’s for real.  Unfortunately, he’s also 88 years old.  There is some furious palace backstabbing going on right now to bypass the next brother in line in favor of getting another reformer on the throne.

    1. Do you actually believe that if we completely stopped using it for fuel that we’d no longer need oil? You have no idea regarding the sheer number of other products that rely on oil. Let me just list a few as an example:
      Ammonia, Anesthetics, Antihistamines, Artificial limbs, Artificial Turf, Antiseptics, Aspirin, Auto Parts, Awnings, Balloons, Ballpoint pens, Bandages, Beach Umbrellas, Boats, Cameras, Candles, Car Battery Cases, Carpets, Caulking, Combs, Cortisones, Cosmetics, Crayons, Credit Cards, Curtains, Deodorants, Detergents, Dice, Disposable Diapers, Dolls, Dyes, Eye Glasses, Electrical Wiring Insulation, Faucet Washers, Fishing Rods, Fishing Line, Fishing Lures, Food Preservatives, Food Packaging, Garden Hose, Glue, Hair Coloring, Hair Curlers, Hand Lotion, Hearing Aids, Heart Valves, Ink, Insect Repellant, Insecticides, Linoleum, Lip Stick, Milk Jugs, Nail Polish, Oil Filters, Panty Hose, Perfume, Petroleum Jelly, Rubber Cement, Rubbing Alcohol,  Shampoo, Shaving Cream, Shoes, Toothpaste, Trash Bags, Upholstery, Vitamin Capsules, Water Pipes, Yarn

      1. And yet whenever I’ve seen it looked into, the amount needed to make all those things is small compared to the amount that gets burnt. So sure, you’d need oil…but might not need foreign oil, or at least not to the point where it defines your policy.

      2. There’s also the huge impact on agricultural production. A few years back in “The Atlantic” there was an article called “The Oil We Eat” on the topic that described how dependent modern farming is on oil.

      3. How many items on that list actually require the use of petroleum in their manufacture? I suspect that for many if not all of them, dinosaur juice merely replaced other ingredients or processes.

      4. We produce quite a bit of oil ourselves, and I’m guessing that without using it for energy we’d have plenty. Plus, many of these things can be made from other ingredients. And before someone points out possibly increased costs, we’ll just take them out of the trillions we will save on not protecting so-called allies and fighting a few wars.

      5. We eat it, we make everything out of it.  These are all reasons to use LESS of it as car fuel, these are NOT reasons that reducing (or eliminating) your automobile fuel consumption is inconsequential. 

  3. This really would be an intolerable deprivation of liberty, equality, and basic human dignity if they didn’t have all that oil.

    1. No, we really wouldn’t give a shit if they didn’t have all that oil. Many countries treat women and various minorities horribly and we pay no attention because they don’t have any resources that we want.

  4. You know your country/culture really sucks hard when you have to FORCE your women to stay around you. Maybe you should work on yourself, guys. 

    1. It’s not them. It’s the womenfolk. Womenfolks are by their poor, predestined nature simply incapable of being good. They’re inherently disobedient, weak, lustful, stupid, dishonest, manipulative and helpless. It’s not actually their fault, not really; that’s just how they’re made. You really ought to beat them regularly to keep them in line, and not stress them with too much thinking, or too many responsibilities outside the safety of the home. They’re not made for it. Look at the decadent west! When you let women have freedom they strip off their clothing and behave in immodest ways with sparkly bits of plastic that they glue onto their bodies, and they writhe and dance and pour vodka down our throats and bounce their breasts in our faces, hypnotizing us into stuffing American money into their thongs. It’s a nightmare. Horribly morally wrong. Can I get another shot of that peanut butter vodka and a lapdance?

  5. U.S. politicians should stop referring to them as “our good friends, the House of Saud” and call them what they really are: “our wife-beating drug dealer, the House of Saud.”

  6. According to the U.S. uses about 330-million barrels a month of imported oil.

    It consists of dozens of nations. Most comes from Canada (90 million) than from the Saudis (42 million), followed by Venezuela, Mexico Columbia…

    Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil exporter in OPEC (just about all of the Persian Gulf countries plus Venezuela). They supply about 130 million a month.

    I assume we blockaded Saudi oil, OPEC would likely fall in line.

    I wish we fueled everything on hydrogen and mined it like Weyland-Yutani.

    1. I assume we blockaded Saudi oil, OPEC would likely fall in line.

      Unlikely that we would piss off the country that gives us a foothold for military bases in the region.

  7. If you’ve followed this topic, it’s not what it looked like in the first news articles.  Not that the Saudi government aren’t sexist pigs, of course, but until recently if a woman wanted to travel out of the country, she needed a paper permission slip from her male guardian, which he had to go to the travel ministry and sign in person.  Now it’s possible for a woman’s male guardian to authorize her travel by mobile phone, without having to use the paper form.   Apparently getting a text response when one of your women safely reached the border or airport used to be an option you could request, but it seems to now be the default.

    1. Still repellent to my sensabilities but worded that way it seems to be a half-baby-step forward.

    1. I’m fairly sure it isn’t that recent – my father had to ‘authorise’ the rest of my family to leave Saudi without him in the 1980s.

  8. Regime change? Oh wait. That is used to make countries more like Saudi Arabia. Ooops and paid for by KSA. Never mind.

  9. So how does this work? Does the SMS originate from the check in at the airport? Does it work on border crossings? Or do they track cellphones? Or something else? If it’s cellphones, I’m sure a state which enforces gender segregation will find more uses for it than just monitoring airports.

Comments are closed.