First Saudi women get driving licences, Middle East News & Top Stories

A Saudi Arabian woman shows her new driver license issued on Monday June 4

A Saudi Arabian woman shows her new driver license issued on Monday June 4

Rights groups earlier reported arrests of at least 11 people last month, mostly identified as women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative Islamic country's male guardianship system.

According to Arab News, the woman, who already had an global driving license, was able to obtain a Saudi license after officials confirmed the validity of the worldwide license and required her to take a driving test.

On Saturday, the Saudi government "temporarily" released eight activists who were arrested in May for protesting against the ban.

But rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned for years to allow women to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful royal described as both liberalizer and authoritarian, has been pushing a series of reforms to modernize the Arab state.

Ten Saudi women were issued national licences after they swapped their foreign ones at the General Department of Traffic in multiple cities, the government said.

But the kingdom faces steep economic challenges as well as a burgeoning young population that, with access to the world through the internet, sees women in neighbouring Muslim countries driving freely.

"It's a dream come true that I am about to drive in the kingdom", Rema Jawdat, one of the women to receive a licence, was quoted as saying by the CIC.

"Because these women are so Western and liberal, and they are being feted in the West. they help give meat to that narrative with Saudi conservative public opinion", Shihabi said.

In Saudi Arabia, women are legally required to get approval from a male guardian for legal decisions.

"Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions", reports SBS.

"If, as it appears, their detention is related exclusively to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women's issues, they should be released immediately", she said.

Saudi Arabia has had laws barring women from driving for decades, but will officially lift it on June 24 - a move that has been widely celebrated.

Latest News