Saudi Arabia issues first driving licenses to 10 women

Marsha Scott
June 6, 2018

As Saudi Arabia prepares to lift the world's only ban on female drivers, 10 women have reportedly been issued driving licenses in the kingdom - a first in decades for the ultraconservative Islamic country.

Saudi Arabia just issued the first driver's licenses to women in The Kingdom's history. General Mohammed al-Bassami of the traffic department previously released a statement on May 8 that indicated women would be allowed to start driving on June 24.

About 2,000 licences are expected to be issued for women next week, according to a statement by the ministry of information.

A video posted on Twitter shows the first woman being handed a driving license by officials, reports Al Arabiya.

The move to grant 10 women driver's licences has been called a publicity stunt to divert attention from the fact that the women who were campaigning for the change are in prison.

The surprise move comes as a number of women who had campaigned for the right to drive are under arrest. Three women who participated in a 1990 protest of the driving ban also were arrested but have since been released.

Several excited women expressed their delight and joy over becoming holders of a driving license, SPA said.

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At least 17 activists were arrested on suspicion of trying to undermine the kingdom's security and stability, a case that local rights activists said has primarily targeted individuals who advocated for women's rights.

This measure is part of the traffic department's preparations to implement a royal decree allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

"Driving, to me, represents having a choice; the choice of independent movement, now we have that option and that's important".

"Driving for women is not just about driving a auto; it enhances strength of character, self-confidence, and decision-making skills", she said in a statement issued by the government.

In an attempt to boost the economy and ease worldwide criticism, Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has been promoting changes, such as the decision to allow women to drive, while risking a backlash from clerics and others who adhere to the ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

Previous reports in state-backed media branded some of the detainees traitors and "agents of embassies".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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