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  1. Hi all, I've started a commentary podcast on a vlog channel I have on YouTube and I'd like to share the link for you all. The first discussion with my friend, a European psychologist, involves the economic underpinnings of the Saudi Women Driving campaign. Feel free to drop me some feedback. YouTube video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG54zHlNd3E As congestion and emission concerns in the mobility sector have accelerated policies to reduce car ownership and enhance 'Green' economies of scale in Western Europe and the United States, client export markets in West Asia are increasingly instructed by hegemonies in the core to stimulate higher volume imports of ICE vehicles. Recently in Saudi Arabia, regulatory obstacles stemming from the country's religious class were removed in an effort to enlarge supply and demand mechanisms. The debate about women driving in Saudi Arabia began in the 1980s, and resulted in prohibitions by Ibn Baz and al-Uthaymeen who declared women's driving an opportunity for corruption and an invitation for Muslim women to imitate other impious women. Citing Quranic verses on modesty and the veil, Ibn Baz reached the conclusion that women should not be allowed to travel alone or with a non-mahram driver, and that under no circumstances should be allowed to drive cars (Al-Rasheed, 2013). This obstacle became not only an inconvenience for Saudi women, but also for major US and semi-peripheral Japanese car manufacturers. With the gradual decline of an American empire, the increasing difficulty and failures of imperialist war to break open markets and the forging of trade and physical walls, the Trump administration has reiterated repeatedly that "Saudi Arabia must pay." It must not only pay for patronage, security and the continued American regional presence, but also for trade inefficiencies that have been tolerated and have persisted for decades. This commentary podcast suggests that in concert with the white feminist movement, mainstream political parties and newspapers, neoliberal NGOs, Saudis in exiles and domestic compradors, the American State Department has spearheaded a new mode of policy framing modeled after the Torches of Freedom campaign initiated by Edward Bernays in 1929. In that campaign, Bernays, a public relations mogul, teamed up with American feminist groups and linked the prohibition of women smoking in the United States to their lack of emancipation, paying female actors to smoke in public in an effort to increase the American Tobacco Company's market share. This podcast further suggests that by means of a coordinated public relations campaign, car manufacturers such as Ford and GM are the real 'winners' of #SaudiWomenDriving. Retrospectively, it argues that the people of Saudi Arabia are the unintended victims of surplus extraction by Western capitalists and of consumerism, all whilst being discouraged to consider the domestic means of production in Saudi Arabia's automotive sector.
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