Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers

Jun 24, 2018, 19:59
Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers

After women in Saudi Arabia, in a revolutionary move, were permitted behind the wheel, traffic officials on the road made a decision to showcase their support in a distinct way.

Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from Sunday, ending the world's only ban on female motorists, a historic reform marred by what rights groups call an expanding crackdown on activists.

The end of the controversial ban brings the ultra-conservative Gulf nation into line with the rest of the world. For many women the move should prove transformative, freeing them from their dependence on private chauffeurs or male relatives and resulting in big family savings.

Official statistics show that women make up the overwhelming majority of job seekers in Saudi Arabia and that around 34 percent of Saudis seeking employment are between 25 and 29 years old.

He has spearheaded the Vision 2030 programme to diversify the economy away from oil and open up Saudi society.

"It is sad that these women who have been fighting for the right to drive won't be there to witness this historic moment".

Some Saudi men have expressed their dissatisfaction with the change, and are using an Arabic hashtag for "You won't drive" in their social media posts, BBC reported.

Accountancy firm PwC has predicted that the number of women on Saudi Arabia's roads will swell to three million by 2020.

The kingdom has already issued its first driver's licenses to a handful of Saudi women, in exchange for ones they acquired while overseas. The events spanned three days in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah and Tabuk.

A woman practices infront of a screen during driving lessons. 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. "Activists have reported that people are afraid to speak out", said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Campaigns Director.

Some women didn't wait until the morning to drive, jumping in their cars at the stroke of midnight and steering their way through the capital's still busy streets.

But she told CNN last month she had canceled the upcoming trip out of fear for her safety.

Al-Ajaji had a USA driver's license before obtaining a Saudi one and appeared comfortable at the wheel as she pulled up and parked.

"You're going to do great!" a passenger shouted from the back seat. "Character assassination. We are seeing that same pattern again now".

Some see the end of the ban as a message from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that women will play a larger role in the conservative country's future. Amnesty International said on Friday that al-Hathloul, as well as at least seven other activists, are now behind bars facing lengthy prison sentences.

The intervening night of June 23 and 24 in Saudi Arabia was different as behind the wheels in umpteen cars were not male drivers but females.

They include Loujain al-Hathloul, a well-known figure in the campaign for women's driving rights. They included women who fought for years to be able to dThe government has been keen to promote the end of the ban as a sign that women's rights are advancing after decades of global criticism. rive.

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