The Driving Restriction on Saudi Women: Critical Analysis of Modality in Arabic Online News Discourse

  • Farah Nadia Harun Graduate Fellow
  • Muhammad Marwan Ismail Lecturer,
  • Anissa Daoudi Arabic Co-Ordinator
  • Paul Thompson Deputy Director
Keywords: Saudi Women, Driving, Online News, Arabic, CDA, Corpus


In a society mostly dominated by man, Saudi women faced many restrictions compared to man as they have legally been barred from doing many things by themselves or at least without a male guardian. One of these restrictions is car driving, which was supported by the Islamic pronunciation (fatwa) made by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Over the last twenty years, there are a lot of struggles recorded by the mass media between the group demanding more rights for Saudi women and the conservative preserving the fundamental of Saudi's culture based on strict Islamic teaching. Hence, this paper examines the way modern standard Arabic online news of Al-Jazirah (AJ) of Saudi Arabia and BBC Arabic (BBCA) of United Kingdom portrayed the restriction of car driving on Saudi women. This paper aims to analyse the ways that language is exploited in BBCA and AJ to report on struggles around the driving restriction on Saudi women, particularly in the used of modality as one of discourse construction strategy utilised by the news outlets. Therefore, the paper will examine the corpus data consists of online news articles published by BBCA and AJ between 2010 and 2014 using corpus data mining software ‘AntConc 3.1’. The quantitative result of corpus data then will be analysed using a qualitative approach based on the textual-oriented Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of Fairclough and media discourse of Ruth Wodak. The result shows that the two news outlets have a different way of portraying the restriction of driving on Saudi women according to their political agendas and ideologies. Hence reveal the hidden agenda and ideologies of Arabic online news discourses around the issue of driving restriction and the Saudi women in general.

Author Biographies

Farah Nadia Harun, Graduate Fellow

Faculty of Major Languages Study, USIM

Muhammad Marwan Ismail, Lecturer,

Faculty of Major Languages Study, USIM

Anissa Daoudi, Arabic Co-Ordinator

School of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham

Paul Thompson, Deputy Director

Centre for Corpus Research, University of Birmingham


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How to Cite
Harun, F., Ismail, M. M., Daoudi, A., & Thompson, P. (2019). The Driving Restriction on Saudi Women: Critical Analysis of Modality in Arabic Online News Discourse. Journal of Fatwa Management and Research, 13(1), 466-487. Retrieved from
Seminar Papers