Published: Mon, June 25, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Saudi women in driver's seat as longstanding ban ends

Saudi women in driver's seat as longstanding ban ends

Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to sit behind the wheel and drive for the first time.

Probably the biggest knock-on effects from lifting the ban will be on expatriate drivers - mainly from India and Bangladesh - employed by Saudi households for years to transport women and carry out daily errands.

"Saudi Arabia has just entered the 21st century", he said to his granddaughters in the back seat in the video.

See photos of some excited women driving their cars legally in Saudi Arabia for the first time below.

"The lifting of the ban is testament to the bravery and determination of the women's rights activists who have been campaigning on the issue since the 1990s, and the activists following up their groundbreaking work in subsequent campaigns since 2011", said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East campaigns director.

While Ms Worthem conceded that the biggest impact of the change would be on drivers, she doesn't expect the workforce to be completely wiped out.

The recent US college graduate was on her way to class last September when she learned that King Salman had ordered an end to the ban, which has always been seen as an emblem of women's repression.

Human rights groups identified numerous detainees as women who had been campaigning for the right to drive, and to end the conservative Islamic country's male guardianship system.

"I had to call my family in Riyadh to ask them if this was true", she said.

"He's never seen me drive before", she said.

"It is a very important step and essential for women's free mobility", Hana al-Khamri, author of the forthcoming book "Female Journalists in Gender Apartheid Saudi Arabia", said.

The dream of millions of petro-state's female citizens came true after the kingdom lifted the decades-long controversial ban on women driving.

Under the system, women need the permission of their closest male relative - husband, father, brother or even son - for most facets of life, including traveling, enrolling in school and in certain cases receiving medical attention.

"It's like they say the ocean is made of little drops of water and that's exactly how I feel today".

Saudi Arabia's air defence forces intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by Yemen's Houthi militia over Riyadh on Sunday, state-run al-Ikhbariya television said on Sunday. And the classes can be costly, running several hundred dollars. (Credit: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters) Hannan Iskandar gets ready to drive her vehicle in her neighbourhood (Credit: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters) Sabika Habib adjusts the mirror of her auto while she is on her way to Bahrain. The ministry declined to disclose how many women had received licenses so far, saying the process is still in the early stages.

"I definitely won't like to drive", said Fayza al-Shammary, a 22-year-old saleswoman.

Within minuted of the ban expiring at midnight, videos surfaced of women hitting the streets and driving through the kingdom.

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