Saudi Arabia To Allow Women To Drive For The First Time

King Salman announced the historic change on Tuesday, ending a conservative tradition which limited women's mobility and was seen by rights activists as an emblem of their suppression.

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump has congratulated Saudi Arabian women after King Salman issued an order allowing them to get behind the wheel.

King Salman's order means women will no longer need permission from a legal guardian to get a licence, they will not need a guardian in the auto when they drive and will no longer be fined or imprisoned if they are found driving.

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. A committee will be formed to look into how to implement the new order, which is slated to come into effect in June 2018.

Under the system of guardianship in Saudi, every woman must have a male guardian - a father, brother, husband, or even a son - who has the authority to make a range of decisions on her behalf, she explained.

"It is unbelievable", 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 finally eased the driving laws for its female population, now allowing them to drive and own a driving license.

Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador, Prince Khaled bin Salman, said it was "an historic and big day" and "the right decision at the right time". The country had been unique in that it was the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive motor vehicles. Numerous women were arrested, including Manal al-Sharif who tweeted of the new decree, 'Today the last country on earth to allow women to drive...we did it'. One of them claimed that driving harmed women's ovaries.

How have Saudi women been punished for driving?

Women will not, however, be allowed to obtain licenses immediately.

Saudi Arabia has appointed its first female spokesperson to represent the kingdom at its embassy in Washington, D.C.

This step is the most recent one in a series of changes that have been made since the 32-year-old Crown Prince took charge in June this year.

"That is the real challenge to society, how they accept having women as full citizens and practise and exercise their right", she said.

But while Tuesday's decision was momentous, the country's leading clerical body issued a long list of strict potential guidelines around the changes, including a restriction against male traffic police speaking to women drivers.

As a reflection of the promise of Vision 2030's vibrant and inclusive society, women attended all events, including in King Fahd International stadium which opened its doors to everyone for the first time.

"This is definitely the right step in the right direction".

  • Leroy Wright