Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women drivers

"The fact that women are now getting the opportunity to drive legally, something we take for granted in the USA and really in any modern country, is a major step towards allowing for more rights for women, civil rights for women", Stur said.

Saudi Arabia will use the "preparatory period" until June to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new motorists, state media said.

"Congratulations to all Saudi women who will now be able to drive", Nissan said in a Twitter post depicting a license plate bearing the registration "2018 GRL".

She said King Salman's historic decree this week allowing women to drive from next June brought her to tears.

The announcement on Tuesday follows decades of resistance from female activists, many of whom were jailed for flouting the ban.

A muted response from Saudi's powerful clergy, which has long backed the ban, suggested power shared between the Al Saud dynasty and the Wahhabi religious establishment could be shifting decisively in favour of the royals. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, who has repeatedly opposed women working and driving and said letting them into politics may mean "opening the door to evil", has yet to comment.

But most who used the negative hashtag were women mocking men opposed to them driving.

Last year, the country's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, laid out a bold vision to reshape the conservative Islamic society.

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The Saudi government has said Vision 2030, a vast plan of economic and social reforms, will raise women's share of the labour market to 30 percent from 22 percent now.

Sept 23: Women were allowed to enter the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time when Saudi Arabia celebrated the 87 anniversary of its foundation with concerts, including a pageant operetta.

Women in Saudi Arabia are still legally required to have a male guardian inform their decisions on marriage, travel and divorce, among other personal issues.

Women make up only about 20 percent of Saudi workers, one of the lowest proportions in the world.

In a royal decree, the monarch directed minister of interior to constitute a high-level ministerial committee to carry out studies about the necessary arrangements to implement the royal decree.

Midrange brands dominate the Saudi market, with Toyota, Hyundai-Kia and Nissan together commanding a 71 percent share of sales.

The decree added that the majority of the Council of Senior Scholars - the kingdom's top clerical body, whose members are appointed by the king - had agreed that the government could allow women to drive if done in accordance with syariah law.

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