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Women in Saudi Arabia Prepare to Get Behind The Wheel

Saudi Arabia driving

US Vogue, November 01, 1964, photographed by Gene Laurents. Courtesy of CNI Archives

There are just a few days to go until women in Saudi Arabia are legally allowed to take the wheel – and helping them get on the road are the Kingdom’s female driving examiners. The General Department of Traffic employees have opened up about their experiences in a new video posted to the government agency’s Twitter page, revealing what steps they took to get to their current roles.

The General Department of Traffic has also shared several videos of women undergoing training at driving schools, such as learning road rules via a simulation. The clips come just weeks after the Kingdom issued its first licenses to women ahead of the landmark reform coming into force. “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.

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In a historic move, the country is lifting its long-standing ban on women driving from June 24, with women who hold international licenses able to replace them with a Saudi equivalent. “Those who wish to obtain a new driving licence and are not good at driving should attend a 90-hour training course, while those who are good at driving should attend a 30-hour training course,” Directorate General of Traffic (Muroor) Mohammed Al-Bassami told the Saudi Press Agency earlier this year.

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 month Saudi Arabia passed a law to criminalize sexual harassment. 

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