Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday it will lift the ban on women driving, a policy that has long served as a symbol of the country's unequal treatment of women.
According to Haaretz, there is no law prohibiting women from driving, but there is a law that requires Saudi citizens to use driving licenses issued by the Saudi Arabian authorities while they are in the country. The shock announcement is part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.
King Salman's decree ends a conservative tradition seen by rights activists as an emblem of the country's suppression of women.
The Saudi ministers are now preparing the required reports and in less than 30 days the royal order should be implemented, entering into force by June 2018, writes the Saudi press. Nor will they need permission to take driving lessons. They forget that expat women, including domestic servants - unless they are able to afford to live in compounds - are subjected to the same form of sexist oppression at the hands of state and society, but have even fewer avenues of protest than Saudi women.
Rights groups and Saudi activists have long campaigned for the ban to be overturned, and some women have been arrested and jailed for defying the prohibition and taking the wheel.
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One Saudi woman tweeted a picture of three women in a convertible going shopping, with the message: "Us soon".
But most who used the negative hashtag were women mocking men opposed to them driving.
Men and women danced in the streets to drums and electronic music, in scenes that were a stunning novelty in a country. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives. But by lifting the driving ban, the regime has crossed a big threshold, both in the eyes of many Saudis and the world.
The decree added that the majority of the Council of Senior Scholars - the kingdom's top clerical body, whose members are appointed by the king - had agreed that the government could allow women to drive if done in accordance with syariah law.
Therefore; adopt the application of the Traffic Regulations and its executive list - which include issuing driving licences to men and women alike, and forming a high-level committee of ministries (including the Interior Ministry, Finance Ministry, Ministry of Labour and Social Development) to study the necessary steps needed to implement the regulations. Ms. Al-Sharif, for example, is a cybersecurity expert who once worked at the state-owned Saudi Aramco before she became fed up and moved to Australia.