Saudi Arabia lifts driving ban on women, ends conservative tradition

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/9/27 22:53:41

A Saudi woman alights from a car outside a mall in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from next June, state media said on Tuesday in a historic decision that makes the Gulf kingdom the last country in the world to permit women behind the wheel. Photo: AFP

Saudi King Salman on Tuesday ordered that women be allowed to drive cars, ending a conservative tradition seen by activists as an emblem of the kingdom's repression of women.

The kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, has been widely criticized for being the only country in the world that bans women from driving, despite gradual improvement on some women's issues in recent years and ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.

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. It gave no details but said a majority of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Saudi Arabia's top clerical body, had approved its permissibility.

US President Donald Trump commended the decision, the White House said in a statement that pledged US support for a plan the Kingdom announced last year for economic and social reforms.


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