Women in Saudi Arabia are finally allowed to drive, the country’s media reported on the royal decision. The conservative kingdom’s ruler King Salman has directed the formation of a ministerial panel which will give its advice within a month so that the order is implemented by June 2018.
However, the royal decree mentioned that the proposed move must adhere to the Sharia standards. Saudi Arabia is the only country which bars women from driving. While issuing the order, the King was quoted as saying that a majority of religious scholars had termed the change as legitimate, Reuters reported.
Moreover, women in Saudi Arabia are also bound by conservative laws of wearing abayas in public and seek the consent of a male guardian for most activities. In recent times, the government has been opening new avenues for women with an aim of modernising the society.
Earlier, a section of clerics had raised objections to the move, claiming that allowing women to drive will make the society corrupt. The state-run Saudi Press Agency on September 26 late night reported that King Salman had ordered that both women and men be issued drivers’ licenses. In 2015, Saudi Arabia had granted rights to the women to vote and run in the municipal elections for the first time.
In its 2016 report, the World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia 141 out of 144 in terms of gender parity. Only Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen were behind on the list. Recently, there were reports that King Salman had ordered setting up a beach resort on the Red Sea Coast where international tourists could wear a bikini.
(With Reuters inputs)
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