Saudi Women to Get Driving License Soon

26, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced that a royal decree has been issued that will allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Right now, only men can get a driver's license in Saudi Arabia and if a woman is seen behind the wheel in a public place, police officers may arrest her or issue a hefty fine.

Following the decree, women will no longer need permission from a legal guardian to get a licence and will not need a guardian in the vehicle when they drive, said the new Saudi ambassador to Washington DC, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Lifting the driving ban is part of a broader reform underway in Saudi Arabia led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"It is incredible", said Fawziah al-Bakr, a Saudi university professor who was among 47 women who participated in the kingdom's first protest against the ban-in 1990.

Saudi Arabia has just taken a big step towards gender equality with their latest landmark decision, which will allow women to drive without the permission of a male guardian.

Women in Saudi Arabia will continue to be subject to a guardianship system that forces them to seek permission from male relatives to do everything from opening a bank account to travelling.

But there are exceptions in the country: Non-Saudi women are legally permitted a more relaxed dress code, and if they are not Muslim they are allowed to not have their heads covered. The committee will make a report in 30 days. In Riyadh, some Saudi women have started showing their faces, a change in the conservative capital where most show only their eyes - if that. Women have fought long and hard in the country for their rights and there have been limited reforms to the outdated laws over the years to reduce the male control over women.

The only countries behind Saudi Arabia are Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.

Women's rights activists in the kingdom have pushed for their right to drive since the 1990s, stating that it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law.

"We're proud to have been able to provide extraordinary mobility for women in Saudi, and are excited by the economic opportunities this change could represent for them in the future", Uber said in a statement.

Women are not allowed to travel without the permission of a male guardian - usually their father or husband.

Saudi women have been campaigning for the right to drive since the 1990s, with many women ending up in prison.


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