Saudi Arabia announces it will let women drive
Saudi Arabia has announced that it will let women drive. The move comes after decades of campaigning from human rights groups.
The kingdom, which has a history of oppressive laws against women, made the decision public through a state television address Tuesday.
The royal decree by King Salman ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days, then implement the order by June 2018, according to state news agency.
The announcement added that the new rules must “apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards.” But the kingdom did not elaborate on what that would entail.
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But the Saudi ambassador to the United States added that any woman with a driver’s licence in the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council — including United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman — would be allowed to drive.
“I think our leadership understands our society is ready,” ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said.
He added that women would not need permission from a legal guardian to get a licence, nor would they need a guardian in the car while driving.
Saudi Arabia is currently the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving.
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The U.S. State Department reacted to the news by saying it is a welcome step.
“It’s a great step in the right direction for that country,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
The move comes just days after women in the country were allowed into a sporting event at the King Fahd International Stadium for the first time.
While the country’s latest decision increases the amount of freedom given to women, they still face several restrictions when it comes to aspects such as legal freedoms, clothing, and partaking in the workforce.
— With files from Reuters
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