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Saudi Arabia: Finally women can drive cars in Kingdom, King Salman orders driving licenses

Manal al-Sharif was arrested for breaking the law in 2011 when she filmed herself driving a car and uploaded the video on YouTube.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia : Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom as of next June.

The royal decree issued on Tuesday also ordered the establishment of a high-level committee of involving the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. They will be tasked with studying the arrangements to enforce the new law.

“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

For years Saudi Arabia has garnered negative attention around the world for detaining women who defied the ban on driving.

Activists are celebrating the news as a major development in a country where women face extreme social and personal restrictions as a result of the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam. Women are not allowed to travel without the permission of a male guardian. They also must cover their hair and bodies in public under the law.

The progressive developments follow a decade of incremental change in Saudi Arabia with more women working in retail and being appointed top executive roles at the Saudi stock exchange and Dammam Airport. Women can now also be appointed to the Shoura Council and run in municipal elections.

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