Removing the decades-long ban, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced that the Muslim country would become the last remaining country to allow women to drive.
Women in Saudi Arabia will finally get to legally drive for the first time from Sunday. Removing the decades-long ban, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced that the Muslim country would become the last remaining country to allow women to drive. A royal decree was issued in September last year announcing the end of the ban in June 2018. This reform is a milestone achievement for the conservative country as well as the Saudi women who were previously relying on male drivers, relatives, taxis or ride-hailing services to take them around. The prince while lifting this ban, said that the decision is a predicament of a “huge step forward” and the signal that “society is ready” for the change.
The kingdom began issuing its first driving licenses to women, earlier this month. “Women will be motivated and empowered to join the workforce by issuing of licenses to 2 to 3 million women and the gap between job opportunities and access will soon end,” a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers released in Saudi Arabia in March forecasting the economic benefits of female drivers, said. With this new development, the car sales in the country are expected to boom after it’s 10 million women will be allowed to drive.
Saudi Arabia has been readying itself for the historic shift since last year. The women had to pass a driving test before receiving their new licenses. To train women to drive cars and even motorbikes, a few driving schools have been set up in cities like Riyadh which saw the admission of enthusiastic female learners. In January, ride-hailing applications Uber and Careem said they were recruiting female drivers for when the ban lifts.
The decision came as part of a series of sweeping social and economic reforms known as Vision 2030. These reforms have been spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.