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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Grants Women the Right to Travel Independently

Photographed by Domen / Van de Velde for Vogue Arabia

According to a decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi Arabian women have been allowed to hold passports and travel abroad without permission from a “male guardian.”

The decree issued three days ago by the Saudi Cabinet and published by the official gazette on August 1, is written in a gender-neutral manner, stating that the Saudi passport will be issued to any citizen who applies for it and that any person above the age of 21 does not need permission to travel.

The decision being hailed as “one giant leap for Saudi women” by Saudi Gazette was also applauded by HRH Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US. “These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women,” she wrote in a series of tweets. Adding: “Women have always played an integral role in our country’s development, and they will continue to do so moving forward on equal footing with their male counterparts.”

The amended regulations also grant the women in the country more control over family matters. For the first time, Saudi women have the right to register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be issued official family documents, as well as be recognized as a guardian to children who are minors.

As per the decree, the Kingdom will also see an increasing number of women in the workforce as it states that all citizens will have the right to work without facing any discrimination based on gender, disability, or age.

These sweeping landmark reforms are a part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s Vision 2030 for the Kingdom announced in 2016. This includes the lifting of the driving ban on women last year, around which Crown Prince Mohammed also indicated he favored ending the male guardian system.

The reforms will come into effect at the end of August.

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