First Saudi Women Get Driver's Licenses


Saudi Arabia on Monday began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades, state media reported. They not only risked arrest by pushing for the right to drive for years, but also called for an end to guardianship laws that give male relatives final say over a woman marrying or travelling overseas. Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licenced drivers in the Kingdom.

"The general directorate of traffic started replacing worldwide driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences". It's a dream come true that I am about to drive in the Kingdom. "Now we have that option", added Jawdat, an official at the ministry of economy and planning who has previous driving experience in Lebanon and Switzerland.

The move comes as Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed drive, prepares to lift the ban on female drivers on June 24.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is seen as the force behind the lifting of the ban.

The Saudi Driving School, at Princess Nourah University, the first for women in the capital, was launched in partnership with the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, an established driving school in the region.

Women 18 years of age and older will be allowed to apply for a driver's license.

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Attendees were also informed of special offers for new female drivers, educated on auto accessories and given the chance to take a spin in a driving simulator.

The 10 women received their licenses after completing a brief driving test. Saudi Arabia's prosecutor said on Sunday that 17 people had been detained in recent weeks on suspicion of trying to undermine security and stability, a case activists said targeted prominent women's rights campaigners.

However, to boost the economy and ease worldwide criticism, Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promoted major cultural changes and allowed women to drive.

They have not only risked arrest by pushing for years for the right to drive, but have also called for an end to guardianship laws that give male relatives the final say over a woman marrying or traveling overseas.

"Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions", reports SBS.

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