Saudi Arabia Will Allow Women to Drive

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The fundamentalist kingdom of Saudi Arabia marked an historical moment by announcing that it will grant to Saudi women the right to drive next year.

Last Tuesday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a royal decree, which lifted women from the long-standing ban, live on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington.

A ministerial body will be formed to give advice within 30 days and then the order will be implemented by 24 June 2018.

Saudi government hopes the new reform will restore the kingdom's international reputation and help the economy by increasing women's participation in the workplace.

“We refer to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive vehicles and the positive aspects of allowing it to do so,” the government wrote in a royal decree.

Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's US ambassador, stated that women will not need a male guardian permission to take driving lessons and would be able to drive anywhere they like.

Since the 1990's right groups had campaigned to overturn the ban but over the years Saudi officials had always justified it based on Shariah laws, which interpretation can be changed by Islamic Jurist known as muftis.

Some said that allowing women to drive would lead to adultery and consequently to the destruction of the Saudi family. Others claimed, with no proof, that driving damages women's ovaries.

In 2011 Manal al-Sharif, an advocate of women's right to drive and the author of a book on the topic, was arrested for filming herself driving and posting the footage to Youtube, where she gained 700,000 views in one day, as a protest to the law.

Al-Sharif showed all her happiness on Twitter where she wrote 'We did it' followed by 'Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop.'

After two decades of campaigning, the kingdom's status as the only country in the world to prohibit women from driving has came to an end. Saudi Arabia's society is slowly changing, activists voices are being heard and women right's campaigners have already set a new target, which will remove male guardianship.

In June thirty-two years old, Mohammed Bin Salman, who is expected to lead the country in the coming years, was elevated to new crown prince. He is 26 years old younger than his predecessor Mohammed Bin Nayef.

In a country used to old men ruling, the prince represents a powerful generational swift. Furthermore Prince Bin Salman is a supporter of social reforms, which gives Saudi Arabia hope for the future. 

 

 

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