Women Take the Wheel as Saudi Arabia Lifts Driving Ban

Saudi women take the wheel for the first time in the country, minutes after the ban on women driving was lifted.

Published24 Jun 2018, 01:52 PM IST
News Videos
2 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bharadwaj

Saudi women took the wheel with gusto, steering their way through the busy city streets, minutes after the decades-old ban on women drivers was lifted in the country on 24 June.

This comes as a culmination of years of campaigning by activists and feminists against the driving ban. While the ban itself has been lifted, the Kingdom is nevertheless prosecuting those who campaigned for its end.

According to BBC, at least eight women's rights activists are being detained and could face trial in a counter-terrorism court. They are looking at long prison sentences for their activism, human rights group Amnesty says. Among them is Loujain al-Hathloul, a well-known figure in the campaign for women's driving rights.

Saudi women take the driver’s seat for the first time in the country, steering their way through busy city streets just minutes after the ban on women driving was lifted on Sunday.
Saudi women take the driver’s seat for the first time in the country, steering their way through busy city streets just minutes after the ban on women driving was lifted on Sunday.
(Photo: AP)
It’s a historic day to be honest. I’m so excited that I can drive myself around and not wait for a driver, I don’t know. I’m speechless, to be honest.  
Hessah al-Ajaji, Saudi Arabian Citizen

The decision to lift the ban was announced in September 2017, and the first driving licenses for women were issued earlier in June 2018.

A 21 June 2018 photo of car saleswoman Maram al-Hazer at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
A 21 June 2018 photo of car saleswoman Maram al-Hazer at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
(Photo: AP)

The lifted ban is the latest in the series of social and economic reforms currently underway in the kingdom, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

According to a report in the CNN, when the decision to lift the ban was announced last September, many women reacted with joy, hailing the new capacity it would give them to work, grow their own businesses and explore the kingdom – although many other restrictions on women's everyday lives remain in place.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women were banned from driving.

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