Suddenly Legal: How Saudi Women Driving Stopped Being Haram Overnight

Women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Women Can Now Drive-Here Are 12 Things They Still Can't Do in the Gulf Kingdom
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28 September, 2017

In a state television and Washington, D.C., media event held Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced in a royal decree that it would be ending its policy against women driving.

Its official Saudi Press Agency published a Supreme Order from the king saying the country will allow driver's licenses to be issued to "both males and females" beginning in June 2018.

The kingdom was the only the country in the world to bar women from driving and for years had garnered negative publicity internationally for detaining women who defied the ban.

"I think our leadership understands our society is ready", Prince Khalid Bin Salman, also son of the king Salman, added.

US President Donald Trump congratulated Saudi Arabia for its decision to join the rest of the world in allowing women to drive, calling it a "positive step" for the Kingdom. In a blog post past year, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal wrote it was "high time that women started driving their cars".

The shock announcement, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.

A special government body has being set up to give advice, and the law will be changed by 24 June 2018. The fight for Saudi women-to redefine their autonomy and rights- is far from over. A few months later, King Salman ordered a review of laws that still make it hard for many women to work, travel, undergo medical procedures and go to university without the permission of a male relative or spouse.

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The issue has come to represent all of the human rights abuses Saudi women suffer under the Kingdom's male guardianship system, which gives a woman's husband, son or father control over nearly all aspects of her life.

One of Saudi Arabia's most vocal women's rights activists says the decision to allow women to drive is a "great first step".

"We have. established a female-only call centre that has created hundreds of opportunities for women", pointed out Mr Elyas.

Nissan tweeted: "Congratulations to all Saudi women who will now be able to drive".

A negative slogan "the people refuse women driving" also sprang up.

Among the opposition and ill intent, it is a win regardless for the women of Saudi Arabia. There will be an impact on the two premier ride-hailing services that have benefitted from the laws preventing women from driving.


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