Saudi King issues decree allowing women to drive

Sep 27, 2017 13:44 IST

Saudi King Salman on 16 September 2017 issued a decree that allows women to drive cars.

The royal decree now ends a conservative tradition seen by rights activists as an emblem of the Islamic kingdom's repression of women.

The decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by 24 June 2018.

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Moreover, the women would not need permission from their guardians to get a license or have a guardian in the car and would be allowed to drive anywhere in the kingdom, including the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Women with a license from any of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. However, it is up to the Interior Ministry to decide whether they could be professional drivers.

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Saudi Arabia has been widely criticised for being the only country in the world that bans women from driving.

However, there has been gradual improvement on some women's issues in recent years and ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.

Despite trying to cultivate a more modern image in recent years, the driving ban had been a longstanding stain on Saudi Arabia's international image.

In Saudi Arabia, women are legally subject to a male guardian, who must give approval to basic decisions they make in fields including education, employment, marriage, travel plans and even medical treatment.

Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions.

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