‘Historic day’ as Saudi Arabia lifts age-old ban on women driving cars

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WORLD (Saudi Arabia ): King Salman on Tuesday ordered that women be allowed to drive cars, ending a conservative tradition seen by women rights activists, campaigning for more than 25 years, as an emblem of the Islamic kingdom’s repression of women. IndiaToday reported that despite gradual improvement on some women’s issues in recent years, the kingdom has been widely criticised for being the only country in the world that bans women from driving. The royal decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by June 24, 2018, according to state news agency SPA. It stipulated that the move must “apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards”, referring to Islamic law.

Saudi ambassador to Washington Prince Khaled bin Salman said it was “an historic and big day in our kingdom”. “Our leadership thinks that this is the right time to do this change because currently in Saudi Arabia we have a young, dynamic, open society,” he told reporters. “There’s no wrong time to do the right thing.” Latifa al-Shaalan, a member of the Shura Council, an advisory body, said the decision would strengthen women’s employment in the private sector. “This is an historic day and I cannot find the words to express my feelings and the feelings of thousands of Saudi women,” she said on Arabiya TV.