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Saudi women will be allowed to drive

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-28 07:17

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Tuesday issued a royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom, local media reported.

The order lifted a decades-old ban on Saudi women from driving, a right that has been reserved only to male citizens and residents so far.

Approved by the majority of religious scholars, the decree said that the benefits of allowing women to drive outweigh the negative affects, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decree cited that the granting of licenses to women will be in accordance with the Islamic regulations and traffic laws.

The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike, the report said.

The king also ordered the creation of a high-level committee by the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. It will be tasked with studying the arrangements to enforce the new law.

It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for a driving licence.

Due to the driving ban, Saudi families have been relying on hiring private drivers to help transport their female members to school, work and other places.

Latest figures showed that nearly 800,000 men, most from South Asia, are working solely in the kingdom as drivers for Saudi women, the Al Arabiya TV reported.

The decree was welcomed by Saudi women, who hailed it as an important step.

"This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought for not just years, but decades for," Latifa Shaalan, a Saudi female member of Saudi Arabia's Shoura Council, told Al Arabiya.

US President Donald Trump welcomed the decision as "a positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities of women in Saudi Arabia", according to a White House statement.

The US State Department called it a "great step in the right direction", echoing a similar comment from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Xinhua - AFP

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