Finally, women behind the wheels in Saudi Arabia Image: Thinkstock
Saudi Arabia and women's rights have seldom been used in the same sentence, at least with a positive connotation. To start with, women need to have a male guardian to take decisions on their behalf, they must have limited interaction with men, they should abide by a strict dress code... and the list goes on. But a monumental change is in the works with the Saudi government finally deciding to remove the ban on women drivers following a royal decree from crown prince Mohammed bin Salman issued back in 2017. Even decades too late is better than never we guess.
The country will now allow women to drive and even though it may seem like a token gesture on the surface, the move may very well be the foundation stone to a more egalitarian society for women in that part of the world.
The first step towards the reform came about on Monday when at least 10 women were issued Saudi drivers' licences, putting an end to the decades-long ban on women drivers.
We chanced upon a video which shows the first Saudi woman, Ahlam al-Thunayan, who already held a foreign driving licence, receiving a Saudi licence from the General Directorate of Traffic (GDT). The video has already gone viral.
As of now, the GDT has started replacing women’s Kingdom-approved foreign driving licences with the Saudi ones but is expected to announce new Saudi licenses for women soon. An official statement also claimed as many as 2,000 more Saudi women will receive their licences next week.
But it will still take a couple of weeks before the change takes effect on the roads. According to an Arab News report, the GDT director, General Mohammed Al-Bassami announced on May 8 that Saudi women will be allowed to drive starting from June 24.