First Saudi women given driving licences ahead of law change

A Saudi Arabian woman shows her new driver license issued on Monday June 4

A Saudi Arabian woman shows her new driver license issued on Monday June 4

"Ten Saudi women made history on Monday when they were issued driving licenses", said the Information Ministry's Center for International Communication (CIC).

"The first group of women today received their Saudi driving licences", the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.

Instagram down as problems on app are reported throughout the night'The general directorate of traffic started replacing global driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences'.

Along with other reform efforts, such as lifting a ban on women attending sporting events and allowing movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, permitting women to drive has been a focus for human rights activists in the country.

Five women and three men were released, but another nine activists remained in custody, according to a statement from Saudi Arabia Public Prosecution.

However, in recent weeks a number of activists who'd protested against the ban were arrested.

Hanadi Alsunaid said she's "looking forward to drive in her own country and go to work by herself, thanking the leadership for continuously empowering women".

Ms Hathloul has been detained previously, including once in 2014 when she attempted to drive across the border from the United Arab Emirates.

However, Saudi media reports suggested the detained activists were in violation of Article 12 of the Basic System of Governance, which "stresses" that the kingdom's "security and stability, its social peace and national cohesion" should be "strengthened and protected from sedition and discord".

"The royal decree allowing women to drive aims at reinforcing the Saudi woman's status and position in society and enabling her to be an independent and productive citizen enjoying all her rights", said Al-Jabr, a full-time working manager who lives with her husband and son.

Saudi Arabia - a noted haven for forward-thinking feminist views... wait no, that's not it... a country that requires women to get permission from men to do nearly anything - is finally about to lift its long-standing and highly controversial ban on women drivers.

Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East director of campaigns, said that "the Saudi Arabian authorities' endless harassment of women's rights activists is entirely unjustifiable".

However, to boost the economy and ease global criticism, Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promoted major cultural changes and allowed women to drive.

"If, as it appears, their detention is related exclusively to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women's issues, they should be released immediately", she said.

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