RIYADH – Women in Saudi Arabia have been legally allowed to drive for the first time in the history of one of the most conservative countries.
The driving ban on women was lifted on Sunday after decades of allowing only male citizens and residents to drive.
In the early hours, women have been driving on the road, while the Saudi traffic police handed out roses to them, according to Al Arabiya news.
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) June 24, 2018
On June 4, Saudi Arabia issued the first driving license to women, as Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud officially announced in September 2017 to allow women to drive.
Assistant Interior Minister for Operations Saeed Al-Qahtani has confirmed that security checkpoints would be set up to deal with expected changes in traffic after lifting the ban.
Driving schools for women have been set up in five cities in the kingdom. Teachers include Saudi women who obtained their licenses abroad. Women with foreign driving licenses will be able to apply for a local one through a separate process.
It is the most visible of a bundle of recent initiatives taken by the Saudi King and the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to strengthen the role of women in Saudi society.
These include more public sector job openings for women, an apparent relaxation of women’s strict dress code, the extension of suffrage to women to vote and stand as candidates in the 2015 municipal election, and small but important steps to decrease influence of the country’s male guardianship system, which requires a women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.