Saudi Arabia to Allow Women to Drive, State Media

Saudi Arabia to Allow Women to Drive, State Media

Women in Saudi Arabia are to be allowed to drive - ending a law which made the Gulf nation the only country in the world to forbid female drivers. Last month, Saudi police arrested an Arab woman after video circulated showing her driving a auto in the Eastern Province.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency and state TV reported the news late Tuesday evening, saying King Salman decreed that both men and women to be issued drivers' licenses.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the U.S.is "happy" with the move.

The plan to allow women to drive is still developing, however, as Saudi Arabia does not now have any legal methods by which women can obtain licenses or learn how to drive. "This will give independence to women", she added.

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Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions.

Saudi Arabia has consistently been ranked as one of the worst countries for gender equality.

Women have grown increasingly bold in protest of the ban, leading up to Salman's decree, with some even getting behind the wheel in open defiance of the ban.

Some reactions to Tuesday's announcement reflected that.

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Many Saudi women rely on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem to take relish some freedom of movement.

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

Saudi Arabia has cautiously begun introducing entertainment, including music concerts, despite opposition from hardliners in the kingdom, where public cinemas and theatre are banned.

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