Rabat – Saudi Arabia has just issued a royal decree allowing women to drive for the first time in the history of the Arabian Kingdom.
In a major step towards gender equality for the kingdom that is often criticized for its infringement of women’s rights, King Salman issued a royal decree this Tuesday allowing women to acquire their driver license.
The news was announced on state media and tweeted by the Saudi press agency SPA. However, Saudi woman will still have to wait for nine months, as the measure will only come into effect beginning in June 2018.
For many years, the ban on women driving has caused serious damage to the kingdom’s international reputation. And while many Saudi women took to the streets in their cars in protest of the policy in recent years, some even arrested and jailed for defying the prohibition and taking the wheel, the ban still had fierce support from Saudi officials and religious figures that went as far as issuing fatwas on the subject.
Recently, Sheikh Saad Al Hijri sparked the outrage of both the international and Saudi public opinion by stating women cannot drive “because they have quarter of a brain.” The cleric was heavily criticized due to his sexist comments, and dismissed from his duties as a religious preacher.