Women now allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

Social media campaigns such as "I am my own guardian" and "Saudi Women Can Drive" swiftly gained traction online.

The move was welcomed by the U.S. State department.

"Today it's especially clear that this includes moves that've always been thought of by Saudis as politically risky", she said.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, is an absolute monarchy ruled according to Shariah law. However, the kingdom's blanket ban has over the years attracted negative publicity.

May said in a statement Wednesday that it represents an "important step towards gender equality".


US President Donald Trump congratulated Saudi Arabia for its decision to join the rest of the world in allowing women to drive, calling it a "positive step" for the Kingdom.

But the campaigner said the battle is not over, with a major setback for women in Saudi Arabia that needs to "disappear".

Women in Saudi Arabia will continue to be subject to a guardianship system that forces them to seek permission from male relatives to do everything from opening a bank account to travelling. "#SaudiArabia", Ivanka, who has 4.62 million followers, posted on Twitter.

"Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle having women in cars next to them", explains the Times.

In a desert country and with a land mass ten times the size of the United Kingdom, it's ridiculous that women haven't been allowed the means to transport themselves around until now.


Loujain Halthloul, a Saudi activist who was imprisoned for 72 days in the winter of 2014 for attempting to cross the UAE border into Saudi Arabia in her vehicle, tweeted two words: "Thank God". The move may signal that the ultraconservative kingdom wants to improve its image.

Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington and the king's son, said that letting women drive was a "huge step forward" adding "society is ready". "I think it's the right decision at the right time".

Until now, only men were allowed licences and women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.

Manal al-Sharif, a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia and one of the leaders of the Women2Drive campaign after she was arrested for driving in 2011, tweeted Tuesday that the nation "will never be the same".



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