First Saudi women get their driving licences

First Saudi women get their driving licences

"The general directorate of traffic started replacing global driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences", it added.

"Driving to me represents having a choice - the choice of independent movement". Women's empowerment is an important element in Vision 2030 and the future of Saudi Arabia.

Other women across the country have been preparing for the right to drive on June 24 by taking driving courses on female-only college campuses.

In preparation for the far-reaching effects of the new policy, a number of recent automotive exhibitions in Riyadh and the port city of Jeddah have attracted crowds of women seeking to learn about automobile culture, auto dealers and insurance companies. "Now we have that option", added Jawdat, an official at the ministry of economy and planning who has previous driving experience in Lebanon and Switzerland.

The AP notes that the women had already possessed licenses in other countries.

The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's far-reaching liberalisation drive as he seeks to modernise the conservative petro-state.

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The self-styled reformer has also ended a decades-long ban on cinemas, allowed mixed-gender concerts and clipped the powers of the long-feared religious police. Saudi Arabia's prosecutor said on Sunday that 17 people had been detained in recent weeks on suspicion of trying to undermine security and stability, a case activists said targeted prominent women's rights campaigners.

SPA said authorities started swapping worldwide licences for Saudi ones in multiple locations across the kingdom, with women applicants made to undergo a "practical test".

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women could not drive due to a strict brand of Islamic law that also says that women should have a male guardian.

"The government must release them now".

The prosecutor's statement said eight people have been temporarily released, while five men and four women remained under arrest.

Campaigners have dismissed the reports as a "smear" campaign.

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