Saudi Arabia to let women drive

Saudi Arabia to let women drive

The decision has sparked euphoria and disbelief among activists in the kingdom, which was the only country in the world to ban women from driving.

Saudi King Salman ordered that women be allowed to drive cars, ending a conservative tradition seen by rights activists as an emblem of the Islamic nation's repression of women. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives.

Abdullah also announced that women could for the first time vote and run in municipal elections.

He said women would not need to get permission from a legal guardian to get a license and would not need a guardian in the vehicle when they drive. Only two days ago, for the first time in history, Saudi Arabia allowed women to go to the stadium to participate in celebrations for the 87th anniversary of the kingdom's foundation.

Another prominent voice was billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed, who in the past had spoken out in support of allowing women to drive.

Sharif, a prominent Saudi activist born in the holy city of Mecca, is among the many women who had taken the driving ban head on.

The Royal government, which marked some of implications for participation of women in public life, first set a women's council and signaled opening first.

Saudi Arabia and Britain are close allies.

"This is a long overdue small step in the right direction and we welcome this move if it means all women in Saudi Arabia will finally be able to drive without any restrictions", he said.

The Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Khaled bin Salman, says women will not need to get permission from a legal guardian to get a license nor need one in the auto when they drive.

This entry has been corrected to show the order takes effect next June, not that an effective date was unspecified. But Nauert isn't commenting on whether Saudi Arabia still needs to do more to ensure full rights for its female citizens.

Prince Salman, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington and the King's son, says letting women drive is a "huge step forward" and that the "society is ready".

The move comes as Saudi Arabia works to improve its image and the perception of its human rights record in the United States and the West.

Saudi Arabia will use the "preparatory period" until then to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new drivers, the announcement added.

NORTHAM: Getting a license doesn't mean equal rights for all.