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Forty-five percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is female. Ironically, these ladies control an estimated $11.9 billion of the nation’s wealth but are denied rights that most women take for granted: They are forbidden from voting (until 2015), can’t drive, and require written permission from their male “guardians” (usually a father or husband) if they wish to travel abroad or open a business. It’s no wonder they are often stereotyped as faceless, voiceless shadows without control over their own destinies.
Offered a unique opportunity, I was invited into a world rarely visited by outsiders—one that is usually considered off-limits and impenetrable—to lift the abaya and niqab and meet the women underneath.
See more of Ziyah’s photos on VICE’s website.