In Saudi Arabia, women can finally drive

Final hours of Saudi Arabia ban on female drivers

In Saudi Arabia, women can finally drive

But the most visible sign of change is coming on Sunday, when women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive, ending a ban that had stained the kingdom's reputation globally, kept women subjugated in the backseat and hindered the full potential of the country's economic growth.

Accountancy firm PwC has predicted that the number of women on Saudi Arabia's roads will swell to three million by 2020.

But much of the initial optimism over his reforms appears to have been dented by a sweeping crackdown on women activists who long opposed the driving ban. Over the years it has been covered by many artists but the version recorded on May 17, at WGBH's Fraser Performance Studio in Boston, Massachusetts, will have a special resonance throughout theGulf region this month.

And Mr Gasnier says that the "very difficult" conditions that blighted Saudi Arabia in 2017 have continued into this year.

The conservative kingdom was the only country left in the world where women were prohibited from driving, a restriction that resulted in some families having to hire chauffeurs for female relatives.

"This is a day I've been waiting for", she said.

She thinks that some Saudi women will take a wait-and-see approach to learning to drive, rather than jumping straight in. And some women still face resistance from conservative relatives.

Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive on Sunday, June 24, overturning the world's only ban on female motorists, a historic reform that is expected to usher in a new era of social mobility. The policy has been in place since 1957 - though that will change on 24 June.

He has spearheaded the Vision 2030 programme to diversify the economy away from oil and open up Saudi society.

This includes lowering the kingdom's unemployment rate from 11.6% to 7% and increase women's participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%. As a preparation for the repeal of the driving ban, the government there has also trained its first batch of women vehicle accident inspectors who would respond to accident involving female drivers. "This is why the leaders of Saudi Arabia refuse to involve women's rights activists in this process", she added.

The Saudi authorities previously said they expected about 2,000 women to have received licences by the time the ban was lifted.

For decades, hardliners cited austere Islamic interpretations to justify the driving ban, with some asserting that women lack the intelligence to drive and that lifting the prohibition would promote promiscuity.

And PRI's The World (an American public radio magazine with an emphasis on global news) has partnered with world renowned Berklee College of Music to celebrate both the change in Saudi policy and the Lennon/McCartney classic by Arabising it, lyrically and musically, and recording what is undoubtedly one of the most poignant cover versions in recent years.

A handful of female driving schools have cropped up in several cities, training women to drive cars as well as Harley Davidson motorbikes - scenes unimaginable even a year ago.

In the past, it has been argued that women drivers were incompatible with Saudi culture. The young man recently flew into the United Kingdom from Saudi Arabia with a number of his friends. The first driving licences were issued earlier this month and the ban itself was formally lifted today. As for the male drivers on the road, "they were really supportive and cheering and smiling", she said.

Young women were spotted present in various exhibits where traffic officials instructed them on handlings of a vehicle.

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