Saudi Arabian women receive driving licenses for the first time

Although the government announced that it would terminate the ban on women driving, 17 advocates for women driving have been detained by the government since May 15. (Susan Baaghil/Reuters)

Although the government announced that it would terminate the ban on women driving, 17 advocates for women driving have been detained by the government since May 15. (Susan Baaghil/Reuters)

Driver’s licenses were granted to 10 Saudi Arabian women for the first time ever on Monday, before the country officially lifts its ban on female drivers later this month.

In a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency, the women were granted licenses after they passed driving tests. The women all held driver’s licenses previously from foreign countries. According to CNN, 2 000 additional women will receive licenses this week.

All women who wish to apply for driver’s licenses in Saudi Arabia will be able to on June 24. According to the Saudi Press Agency, all women hold a driving license from any recognised country will be granted a Saudi license immediately. The Saudi Ministry of Information said in a statement that it would be the first time in more than 50 years that women can drive, according to The National.

On Monday, a Twitter user posted a video of a woman receiving her license and wrote in Arabic, “Thousand congratulations to the daughters of the homeland being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia.”

Assistant professor at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University Tahani Aldosemani felt a great sense of pride after receiving her license.

“Driving for women is not just about driving a car; it enhances strength of character, self-confidence, and decision-making skills. It also instils a sense of responsibility for yourself, your vehicle, the road, and the people around you, not to mention the economic and social dimensions of driving,” she said.

Although the government announced that it would terminate the ban on women driving, 17 advocates for women driving have been detained by the government since May 15 for “trying to undermine security and stability” according to TIME. Eight women have been released, but nine are still being held, prompting scrutiny of the kingdom’s real commitment to women’s empowerment.

The lift on the ban on women driving follows an announcement in September 2017, by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to grant women more rights to boost their participation in the Saudi Arabian economy by 2030, according to CNN Money

As part of this proclaimed Vision 2030 plan, Bin Salman has issued a raft of reforms aimed at making the kingdom a more compelling investment destination.

Arielle Schwartz

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