Community reacts to Saudi women drivers

29 September, 2017, 00:11 | Author: Garry Little
  • Women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

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.

Saudi state TV said that the rollout of the changes would take until June 2018.

"If last week's national day celebrations in which women were allowed to enter stadiums in anything to go by, the opposition is likely to be limited to protests on social media". Women may have to get the permission of their male "guardians" to drive, as they do for many major activities in their life.

Saudi women rejoiced at their historic new freedom to drive on Wednesday, with some taking to the roads even though licences will not be issued for another nine months.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, had been widely criticised for being the only country in the world that barred female motorists, a tradition seen by rights activists as emblematic of Riyadh's repression of women.

Those arrests were not directly related to the driving ban, but apparently to an ongoing crisis with Gulf rival Qatar, said Jane Kinninmont from London-based Chatham House.

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The momentum to change the policy picked up in recent years with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, the king's 32-year-old son, who has laid out a far-reaching plan to overhaul the kingdom's economy and society.

"My vehicle is still there, the one I drove". The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith.

The decision was met with jubilation from Saudi women and from around the world. It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for driving licences.

Given the driving ban, women have recently begun to rely on ride-hailing apps like Uber, which have facilitated their entry into the workforce, and decreased their dependency on men to chauffeur them.

The right to drive is a seriously hard-won battle that Saudi Arabia's women should properly celebrate.

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. President Trump has commended the kingdom's decision to affirm the right of women to drive in the country. 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.

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