In Brief

Saudi king lifts ban on female drivers

His decree overturns decades of sexist policy in the oil-rich nation

Women have been granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, following an announcement by King Salman which overturned decades of policy that highlighted the oppression of women by the country’s ultraconservative rulers.

“Following the decree, women will no longer need permission from a legal guardian to get a licence and will not need a guardian in the car when they drive,” The Guardian reports.

“This decree is huge for Saudi Arabia,” BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says. “For decades now, Saudi women, many of whom are extremely well-educated and ambitious, have been waiting for their chance to participate fully in their country’s economy.” 

Fawziah al-Bakr, a university professor who was among 47 women to participate in the kingdom’s first protest against the ban in 1990, welcomed the “amazing” decision.

“Since that day, Saudi women have been asking for the right to drive, and finally it arrived. We have been waiting for a very long time,” she said.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the decree “a great step in the right direction for that country”.

It may, however, still face some hurdles before coming into effect. “The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith,” The New Yorker says.

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