Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia. King Salman has issued a decree that now allows women drivers in the kingdom to apply for a driver's license. A committee has been formed to implement the ruling and present their recommendations within 30 days. The Saudi Arabia Government has until June 24, 2018 to implement the rule.
The kingdom's latest decree ends 60 years of women not being allowed to drive cars in the country. In 1990, 47 Saudi women drove to Riyadh in protest of the ban and were subsequently arrested. From 2007 to 2008, petitions were signed to let women drive on public roads and in 2011, the Women2Drive campaign was formed. Six years following the said campaign, the King signed the decree to allow women behind the wheel.
The statement from the Saudi Press Agency reads: “We refer to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive vehicles and the positive aspects of allowing it to do so, taking into consideration the application of the necessary legal controls and adherence to them.
We also refer to the view of the majority of the members of the senior scholars on the driving of women of vehicles that the legitimacy of this is in terms of origin, is permissibility that the views of the reservation is focused on considerations related to blocking the possible pretexts that do not reach the certainty and the predominance of the thought do not see impediment to allow it to drive vehicles, in the light of finding guarantees of legitimacy and order necessary to avoid those pretexts, even if they were within the scope of doubtful possibility.”
Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad, said that this is a historic decision that comes from the wise vision of Saudi leadership for women to take their proper place and development in accordance with Shari'a law.
Prior to this, Saudi Arabia held the distinction of being the only country in the world which does not allow women to drive. The lifting of the said ban is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 which includes women empowerment, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the ambassador of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 also seeks to give women in the kingdom more job opportunities, as well as increasing the number of women in the workforce.
The movement for allowing women to drive began when Manal al-Sharif, a women's rights activist, posted a video of herself on Youtube driving in Saudi Arabia. She was detained for five days on charges of 'disrupting public order' and 'inciting public opinion'.