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Saudi Arabia Has Issued its First Driving Licenses to Women

There are just a few weeks to go until women in Saudi Arabia are officially allowed to hit the road. In a historic move, the country is lifting its long-standing ban on women driving from June 24 – and this week, 10 women were given their licenses ahead of the landmark reform coming into force.

The women selected already held international driving permits, Arab News reports, which have now been replaced with officially recognized Saudi equivalents. “The issuance of the licenses means that for the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in the Kingdom,” said a statement by the Ministry of Information. “Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licensed drivers in the kingdom.”

Also Read: Saudi Arabia Driving Ban for Women Lifted 

The female motorists took a driving exam and eye test before being issued their permits at General Directorate of Traffic offices around the country on Monday. “I have 12 years of driving experience in Lebanon, Switzerland, and the United States. It’s a dream come true that I am about to drive in the Kingdom,” Rema Jawdat, one of the 10 women, was quoted as saying by the information ministry’s Center for International Communication (CIC). “The moment I got the news about driving was unbelievable for me. Driving, to me, represents having a choice; the choice of independent movement. Now we have that option and that’s important.”

The historic reform, first issued in a royal decree by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in September 2017, falls under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The social and economic blueprint, helmed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, will allow Saudi Arabia to diversify from a reliance on oil and move towards a more modernized, tourist-friendly future. Under the plan, the Kingdom aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 22% to 30%. As of this year, females have also been allowed to attend sporting matches in select stadiums, and just last week Saudi Arabia passed a law to criminalize sexual harassment. 

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