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Saudi Arabia Issues First Driving Licenses to Women

07 June, 2018, 12:50 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Saudi Arabia issues first driving licenses to 10 women

Ten Saudi women have so far been issued driving licenses, with internationally recognized driving licenses being swapped with Saudi ones.

While King Salman's government is surely being lauded for taking this courageous step of allowing women to drive cars, there are now five men and four women in prison for campaigning for it.

"The general directorate of traffic started replacing global driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences", it added. The women were subject to a practical driving test before eventually receiving their new licenses Monday.

Rights groups say four women remain in custody, facing possible trial.

Women with foreign driving licenses will be able to apply for a local one through a separate process, which will also assess their driving skills.

The move comes as multiple Saudi women's rights activists remain under arrest for their protests campaigning for the right to drive.

"All the requirements for women in the kingdom to start driving have been established", Bassami told the AFP. At least 17 women activists have been arrested and they face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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The first women to be issued a license are Saudi citizens who hold valid driver's licenses in other countries.

Saudi Arabia has temporarily released eight people accused of communicating with organisations hostile to the kingdom, but is holding nine others in detention, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

Saudi women have previously petitioned the government for the lifting of the ban, and even taken to the wheel in protest. The announcement came in the form of a royal decree in September of past year as the Kingdom sees the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman try and transform a traditionally conservative oil-based economy into a transparent modern society that is attractive to Western companies and investment. Global media weren't present for the event.

The civil rights crackdown is still in effect, however.

Some 2,000 licenses are expected to be issued to women in the upcoming weeks.

The crown prince's Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to elevate women to almost one-third of the workforce, up from about 22 percent now.

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