Final hours of Saudi Arabia ban on female drivers

Final hours of Saudi Arabia ban on female drivers

In Saudi Arabia, women can finally drive

After women in Saudi Arabia, in a revolutionary move, were permitted behind the wheel, traffic officials on the road chose to showcase their support in a distinct way. "It feels lovely. It was a dream for us so when it happens in reality, I am between belief and disbelief - between a feeling of joy and astonishment", said Mari as she pulled up to order a drive-thru coffee on her way to work. Yet at the same time, the government has jailed some women who campaigned to drive for years.

The Saudi authorities previously said they expected about 2,000 women to have received licences by the time the ban was lifted. (Credit: Hussain Radwan/AFP) Samira al-Ghamdi, a psychologist, drives to her workplace in Jeddah. The ten women had obtained their global driving licenses before, except in their home country.

Majdooleen al-Ateeq, 23, drove across Riyadh for the first time in her black Lexus.

Now she can driver herself to work - or anywhere she wants to go. "He will move the country (forward) faster", she said.

Saudi Arabia is among the most conservative countries in the world and women have traditionally had much fewer rights than men.

Renault stole a march on their Formula One rivals on Sunday when they gave a Saudi Arabian woman a chance to mark a special day by driving one of their cars ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix.

The number of new drivers remains low, as women with foreign permits were only able to convert them starting this month.

"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.

To celebrate this joyous occasion, woman racer Aseel Al Hamad laps a race track in Saudi Arabia in an F-Type.

England break record in win over Panama
There is no denying it, England did the business and then some in their second game of the 2018 World Cup this afternoon. With the country's most one-sided World Cup victory, England advanced to the last 16 with a game to spare.

The government has preemptively addressed concerns of harassment - with a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of SR300,000 ($80,000).

In addition to cars, women will be allowed to drive motorbikes, vans and trucks.

. "It's liberating", one woman told Al-Arabiya on Sunday.

With state-backed support for women driving, more Saudis are openly expressing their support for the decision, saying it is long overdue.

"I'm speechless. I'm so excited it's actually happening", said Hessah al-Ajaji, who drove her family's Lexus in the capital, Riyadh, at the stroke of midnight when the ban came to an end. "Now we're going to be in a better place", said Maram Al-Hazer, a manager at several vehicle showrooms, including Ford, who has two family drivers. "Many women will be new drivers".

It adds that the new law means numerous 1.5 million Saudi women who are at school or are in training can join the labour force in the years to come. Some have since been temporarily released.

But there are still limits on what Saudi women can do.

The lifting of the ban, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms pushed by his powerful young son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Her husband, Mustafa Radwan, is encouraging her to drive and says he'd feel safer knowing that she and their two kids don't need to rely on ride-hailing services.

Latest News