Times of Oman
King Salman issues decree allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia
September 27, 2017 | 8:47 AM
by Reuters
FILE PHOTO: A woman drives a car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo
 
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Riyadh/Washington: Saudi King Salman on Tuesday ordered that women be allowed to drive cars.

The royal decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by June 24, 2018, according to state news agency SPA.

It stipulated that the move must "apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards", referring to Islamic law. It gave no details but said a majority of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Saudi Arabia's top clerical body, had approved its permissibility.

An hour after the official announcement in Saudi Arabia, a jubilant Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khaled bin Salman, said it was "an historic and big day in our kingdom".



"I think our leadership understands that our society is ready. I think it's the right decision at the right time," the ambassador said.

Positive reactions quickly poured in from inside the kingdom and around the world.

The U.S. State Department welcomed the move as "a great step in the right direction". President Donald Trump commended the decision, the White House said in a separate statement that pledged U.S. support for a plan the Kingdom announced last year for economic and social reforms.

"This is a positive step toward promoting the rights and opportunities of women in Saudi Arabia," the White House statement said. "We will continue to support Saudi Arabia in its to efforts to strengthen Saudi society and the economy through reforms like this and the implementation of Saudi Vision 2030."

Prince Khaled, the ambassador, said women would not need permission from their guardians to get a license or have a guardian in the car and would be allowed to drive anywhere in the kingdom, including the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Women with a license from any of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, he added. He said the Interior Ministry would have to decide whether they could be professional drivers.

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