Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 224

Full Length Research Paper

Women, start your engines: US and UK media portrayal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia women driving ban

Saud A. Alsulaiman
  • Saud A. Alsulaiman
  • Mass Communication Department, College of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Google Scholar
Terry L. Rentner
  • Terry L. Rentner
  • School of Media and Communication, 306 Kuhlin Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 17 September 2020
  •  Accepted: 07 December 2020
  •  Published: 31 January 2021


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was the only country to ban women from driving until a royal decree changed this in June 2018. The controversy before and after the ban gained media attention and is the foundation for this study, examining how US and UK media covered the women driving ban. Framing theory and thematic analysis were used to examine 80 articles randomly chosen from 10 prominent and most trusted US and UK news outlets before and after the ban. The study found that the majority of the coverage was supportive of women driving before and after the ban in the KSA, but coverage of KSA women vividly shifted after lifting the driving ban. Western ideologies and perspectives, present in most articles, did not consider the main differences between cultures. False information and exaggerations in some articles provided inaccurate information about women in the KSA.


Key words: Saudi women, framing theory, thematic analysis, US and UK media coverage.