In addition to the Islamic restriction found in most Arab countries preventing Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims, Saudi Arabia's Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas [religious decrees] - a governmental body - has ruled a Sunni woman should not marry a "Shia man or a communist [atheist]".
Women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.
A Saudi woman has been named to a senior government post for the first time, authorities said on Wednesday shortly after a ban on women drivers was lifted as the conservative kingdom takes steps to modernize its image.
"Changing this is an worldwide PR coup for Saudi Arabia and for Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, who is far more media-savvy and PR-conscious than his predecessors".
While the lifting of the ban will empower Saudi women, the company said yesterday its existing efforts have already provided a boost for females in the workforce.
Next year women in Saudi Arabia could be allowed to drive. Women are still not allowed to marry or travel overseas without permission from a male "guardian", such as a husband, father, or other close male family member, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch. Recent months have seen live concert performances in Riyadh - albeit to male-only audiences - while the powers of the once-omnipresent religious police have been curtailed.
The Saudi envoy said cheerily: "You may be interested to know that a few minutes ago, a royal decree has been issued in Saudi Arabia giving women the right to drive". Then the government will have until June 24, 2018, to implement the new decree.
Lori Boghardt, a Gulf specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the change is yet another sign that the Crown Prince is intent on adopting social reforms that will transform the Kingdom. Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, says the USA applauds the move.
While speaking to reporters in the U.S, the official outlined that women were going to be allowed to obtain licenses without necessarily obtaining the permission of a male relative. The kingdom's dresscode requires women to wear an "abaya", a dress-like full length cloak.
How have Saudi women been punished for driving? Women will be able to drive alone, but the country's Interior Ministry is to decide whether women will be able to drive professionally.
Saudi women are required to get permission from a male family member, sometimes even a younger brother, for some of the most important decisions of her life. On September 26, the Kingdom announced that it will allow women to drive.
The only countries behind Saudi Arabia are Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.