The government of Saudi Arabia has issued today, Tuesday September 26, a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom. The reform was announced on television and also by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Saudi Arabia is currently the only country in the world where the act of women driving is forbidden. The decree will be fully implemented by June of next year.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and is a Muslim monarchy ruled according to a conservative interpretation of Shari’a law. Many Saudi scholars have provided numerous explanations for the ban over the years. Just last week, a Saudi scholar said that women shouldn’t drive because their brains shrink to a quarter of the size of a man’s brain.
“It’s time for women to drive,” the Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal declared this last year. Several women and men have long campaigned for the ban to be overturned, and some women have even been arrested for opposing the prohibition. However, their voices were not being heard, until now.
“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.