Saudi Arabia grants first driving licences to women

Jun 06, 2018, 12:55
Saudi Arabia grants first driving licences to women

The Saudi General Traffic Directorate in Riyadh started allowing women to trade in global licenses for national ones at various locations around the kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency announced.

In order to receive their licenses, they each took a standard eye exam and driving test before being issued their cards at the General Department of Traffic in the capital city of Riyadh.

Other women across the country have been preparing for the right to drive on 24 June by taking driving courses on female-only college campuses.

While Saudi law has never explicitly banned women from driving, women were not issued driving licences.

Saudi Arabia on Monday began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades, state media reported. These women, according to government officials, already had driving permits/licenses granted to them by other countries, prompting the decision to start with them.

The General Department of Traffic Director General Mohammed al-Bassami announced May 8 that women will be able to drive from June 24. Saudi Arabia's prosecutor said on Sunday that in all, 17 people had been detained in recent weeks on suspicion of trying to undermine security and stability, a case that activists said targeted prominent campaigners for women's rights.

In announcing the government's decision to lift the ban on female drivers previous year, Prince Salman said women will not need approval from their guardians to get a driver's license and will be able to drive alone in the vehicle.

The European Parliament has urged Saudi Arabia to release all detained human rights defenders in the country.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia follows a strict form of Wahhabi Islam that places many restrictions on women and bans the mixing of sexes at public events.

Several excited women expressed their delight and joy over becoming holders of a driving license, SPA said. "The moment I got the news about driving was unbelievable for me", said Rema Jawdat, a risk analyst, at the Ministry of Economy and Planning. A Saudi government statement released on Saturday said that the activists had been arrested on charges that included "suspicious contact with foreign parties", without naming them.

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