Driving Force: the n7nu Campaign in Saudi Arabia

Driving Force: the n7nu Campaign in Saudi Arabia November 24, 2009

The advertisement begins with a short video of a woman moving from the back seat to the front seat, followed by the simple question, “drive?” The video sets the tone for this campaign, which asks the general population to discuss and also listen.

The n7nu campaign has a very simple message: one of awareness.  The aim is to provide a platform for women, men, Saudis and non-Saudis alike to share their views in regards to women driving in Saudi Arabia.

In a blitz of new media, Areej Khan, a Saudi design student in the United States, gives a voice to the debate on women driving in her home country. Following a thesis about the topic of women driving in Saudi Arabia, and her own experiences with her father chauffeuring her, her mother, and sisters around, Khan launched n7nu, which literally means “We” in Arabic. While the campaign aims to provide a forum, it provides it in a creative and thought provoking manner.

Emblazoned across Jeddah is the image of a woman in black with a thought bubble above her head. The messages are compelling:

Image via n7nu's Flickr page.
Image via n7nu's Flickr page.
"I should drive because I am not less than any man or girl from another country." Image via n7nu's Flickr page.
Image via n7nu's Flickr page.
Image via n7nu's Flickr page.

The campaign is smart and well-designed. What is most refreshing about it is its aim to provide a voice for Saudi women themselves.

The organizer of the campaign is notably absent from it. While Khan is incredibly passionate about her cause, the user-generated media provides a significant aspect of the campaign. In providing an outlet rather than an agenda, the campaign serves as a reminder that there is not enough attention paid to the views of Saudi women themselves. The campaign points out that there is actual discourse on the issue. The power of this campaign is in its power to inspire, rather than to preach.

While I feel that reading the actual message boards on the Facebook page are a bit daunting, they are a reminder that this topic touches a wide spectrum of areas, rather than simply that of religion. Furthermore, it does something that I feel particularly passionate about: highlighting the significance of the voice of Muslim women in regards to issues which specifically regard them.

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