Saudi Arabia driving ban on women to be lifted – BBC News

Saudi womenImage copyright
Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time, state media say.

Government ministries are to prepare reports within 30 days and the order will be implemented by June 2018, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to forbid women from driving.

Rights groups have campaigned for years to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.

“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licences for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The move was welcomed by the US state department which called it “a great step in the right direction”.

The decree said that the move should “apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards”, but did not give details.

The SPA report said a majority of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars had backed the idea.

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AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Saudi women were recently allowed inside King Fahd Stadium to celebrate for the first time

Correspondents say that although it is not technically illegal for women to drive, only men are allowed driving licences and women who drive in public risk being arrested and fined.

Saudi law enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and is known for its gender segregation rules.

Women will still have to adhere to strict dress codes, must not associate with unrelated men, and if they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by – or receive written permission from – a male guardian.

The staunchly conservative Islamic kingdom recently faced a backlash on social media after allowing women to participate in Saturday’s National Day celebrations for the first time.

The festivities included fireworks, light shows and a concert in King Fahd International Stadium in the capital, Riyadh.

Media captionWhat do Saudi women say about oppression?

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