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Change is Coming With Women’s Driving Rights in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia driving

US Vogue, February 1976, photographed Bob Richardson. Courtesy of CNI Archives

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued a historic royal decree that will allow women to drive, ending the country’s decades-long policy of prohibiting women behind the wheel. The change is set to take effect in June 2018. The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced the news live on state television on Tuesday. lists the vital details in digest.

The Man Behind the Policy Change

The new policy is just one of many changes rippling through the Kingdom, since 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the youngest minister of defense in the world, was appointed Crown Prince in June 2017. His Highness has ambitious plans to reform the Saudi economy.

Women In the Saudi Workplace

The policy change aims to increase women’s participation in the workplace as many rely on drivers and male family members to get to work. “We refer to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive vehicles and the positive aspects of allowing it to do so,” the royal decree read.

Saudi Arabia driving

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

The No Permission-Required Policy

Additionally, women would not need to get permission from a legal guardian to get a license and would not need a male guardian in the car when they drive. This is being regarded as a step in the right direction for women’s rights and a victory for Saudi women, especially the activists who have been campaigning since the 1990s to overturn the ban – often getting arrested in the process.

What the World Thinks

While some conservatives opposed women’s right to drive in the Kingdom, the groundbreaking decision has been praised by women and men across the globe on Twitter and Instagram, with hashtag #SaudiWomenCanDrive being used in a flood of tweets. Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

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