The Saudi Arabian Government plans to implement an order that will allow women to drive. The order be implemented by June 2018, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to forbid women from driving. Rights groups have campaigned for years to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.
“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licences for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Saudi law enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and is known for its gender segregation rules.
Women will still have to adhere to strict dress codes, must not associate with unrelated men, and if they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by – or receive written permission from – a male guardian.
The move to ease restrictions on women has huge implications for the Saudi economy and women’s ability to work. It is just the latest in a series of changes that have been rippling through Saudi Arabia since the rise of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The crown prince, known casually as “MBS,” is spearheading an ambitious plan to reform and transform the Saudi economy by 2030 and, in line with that goal, increase the number of women in the workforce. Bin Salman, who was appointed by his father to the position of crown prince in June, is seen as a major power in the country and is expected by many to be named king before too long.
The staunchly conservative Islamic kingdom recently faced a backlash on social media after allowing women to participate in Saturday’s National Day celebrations for the first time.
The festivities included fireworks, light shows and a concert in King Fahd International Stadium in the capital, Riyadh.