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Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive

By AFP - Sep 27,2017 - Last updated at Sep 27,2017

This file photo taken on October 26, 2014 shows a Saudi woman getting into a taxi at a mall in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from next June, state media said on Tuesday (AFP photo)

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from next June, state media said Tuesday, in a historic decision that makes the Gulf kingdom the last country in the world to permit women behind the wheel.

The shock announcement comes after a years-long resistance from women’s rights activists, some of whom were jailed for defying the ban on female driving.

The decision risks riling religious conservatives and is part of the government’s major reform drive, conceived by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

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

It added that the decree would be implemented from June 2018.

The announcement follows a dazzling gender-mixed celebration of Saudi national day at the weekend, the first of its kind, which aimed to spotlight the kingdom’s reform push, analysts say, despite a backlash from religious conservatives.

Men and women danced in the streets to drums and thumping electronic music, in scenes that are a stunning anomaly in a country known for its tight gender segregation.

Women were also allowed into a sports stadium — previously a male-only arena — to watch a musical concert, a move that chimes with the government’s “Vision 2030” plan for social and economic reform as the kingdom prepares for a post-oil era.

With more than half the country aged under 25, Prince Mohammed, the architect of Vision 2030, is seen as catering to the aspiration of the youth with an array of entertainment options and promoting more women in the workforce.

The gambit to loosen social restrictions, which had so far not translated into more political and civil rights, seeks to push criticism over a recent political crackdown out of the public eye, some analysts say.

Authorities this month arrested more than two dozen people, including influential clerics and activists, in what critics decried as a coordinated crackdown.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, despite ambitious government reforms aimed at boosting female employment.

Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member — normally the father, husband or brother — must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.

 

But the kingdom appears to be relaxing some norms as part of the Vision 2030 plan.

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I AM NOT SURE EXACTLY WHERE BRENDA IS GOING WITH THIS AND WHAT HER SPIN IS/ARE?. AS AN AMERICAN, DOES BRENDA THINK THAT THE STATUS QUO IN THE ARAB WORLD MEETS ANY INTERNATIONAL STANDARD AND/OR DOES SHE THINK THAT ANY OF THESE MEDICAL AGES OF THE KANGRO COURTS CAN BE TOLORATED A MINUTE IN USA?. AS A WOMAN, DOES SHE THINK THAT SHE CAN BE LIVE LIKE WOMEN LIVE IN THE ARAB WORLD FOR ONE DAY?. THE IDEA THAT TRIBAL COURTS TRUMPS THE RULES OF INTERNATIONAL COURTS AND THE CIVIL/HUMAN RIGHTS OF ANY PERSON IRRESPECTIVE OF FAITH, RELIGION AND ETHNICITY? CAN THOSE WHO PRACICED VODOO WITH HUMAN SACRIFIES HUNDRED YEARS AGO CONTINUE TO DO SO BECAUSE OF THEIR OUTDATED TRIBAL COURTS? DOES SHE THINK THAT SLAVERY SHOULD COME BACK OPENLY? DOES SHE TRUELY BELEIVE THAT WOMEN HAS HALF BRAINS?. DOES SHE THINK THAT THE MINIMUN REQUIREMENT FOR BEING A LEADER, PRESIDENT, MONACH AND/OR HOLD PWER IS THE LEVEL AND QUALITY OF TESTESTORONE? WHAT HAS BRENDA HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE QUALITY AND INTELLECTUAL POWERS OF WOMEN LIKE THE LATE IRON LADY, THE LEADER OF GERMANY, MRS CLINTON AND THE LIST GOES ON?. AS A WOMAN, SHE KNOWS BETTER THE MENTAL TORTURE INFLICTED ON THESE WOMEN THAT ARE BEING TREATED LIKE NO CITIZENS. THIS IS A BIG DEAL AND I DO RESPECT AND COMMEND THE LEADERS OF THE KINGDOM FOR UNDERSTANDING THAT THE STATUS QUO IS WRONG.

Well, as an American woman living here in Amman, I am inclined to feel relief for the Saudi women, but I am also inclined to feel it with a bit of respite and scepticism, and hold reservation to feel a sense of allyship based on the grounds that they aren't using us to subdue and undermine the powers of their tribal courts, so no, I am still for generalized condemnation and damnation of the Saudis in general in their entirety.

THE POWER OF THIS SAUDI TURN-AROUND CAN NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE UNDER ESTIMATED BECAUSE ALL OTHER COUNTRIES IN THAT REGION HAS MAINTAINED THE STATUS QUO OF STANGULATION OF WOMENS RIGHT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT RECEIVED EDIT FROM THE KINGDOM. NOW THAT THE KINGDOM HAS DELIVERED THE MASSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR, THE WORLD IS WATCHING ALL THE MODERATE COUNTRIES IN THAT REGION TO TAKE WOMEN'S CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS VERY SEROIUS AND DRAIN THE SWAMP OF GENDER BASHING. WOMEN DO NOT HAVE HALF BRAINS OR LACK EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OR HERE ONLY FOR PRO-CREATION WHEN IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE. ARAB WORLD HAS ALL THE POTENTIALS IT NEED TO LEAD THE WORLD FROM WEST TO EAST, SOUTH AND NORTH SO IS TIME TO PICK UP THEIR TOOLS OUT OF THEIR TOOL BOXES WITH OUT BIAS.

I AM VERY VERY IMPRESSED BY THE RESPONSE FROM ALL PEOPLES ALL OVER THE WORLD. IN WASHINGTON WHERE I FIRST HEARD THIS NEWS AS IT WAS BEING GREETED BY THE SPOKES WOMAN OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT WHO WAS NOT ONLY JOYFUL BUT SINCERELY TOUCHED BY THE NEWS. LOOK AT THE RESPONSE FROM THIS JORDAN TIMES FREE WEB SITE, LOOK AT HOW YOUNG SUDI WOMEN TOOK TO THE AIR, SOCIAL WEB SITES TO CELEBRATE THE LIBERATION FROM THE BANDAGE OF HELL. TO THOSE WHO WISH TO CONTINUE TO LIVE IN THE DARK AGES BY PROJECTING THAT THIS RIGHT POLICY AT THE RIGHT TIME WILL LEAD TO " DRIVING WHILE WEARING MINI SKIRTS & TOPLESS BLOUSES ", I SAY TO YOU THAT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO LIVE IN THIS AGE, YOU MAY CONSIDER MIGRATING BACK INTO TO STONE AND MESOLISTIC AGE. THIS IS JUST THE FIRST SHOT AND MANY MORE TO FOLLOW FROM ABOLISHING THE BLINDFOLDING WOMEN WITHOUT CONSENT ( NIQAB HIJAB ), HIDING WOMEN BEHIND MEN, DEPRIVATION OF ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION BY WOMEN, PUTTING WOMEN ON THE LEASH OF THEIR MASTERS, DEPRIVING WOMEN OF THEIR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS AS PRACTICED IN MANY ARAB WORLD, PHYSICAL ABUSE AND MENTAL TORTURE OF GIRLS AND WOMEN WHILE THE SO CALLED UN HUMAN RIGHT WATCH AND THE WEST TAHT SUPPORTS THESE THESE POLICIES BY TURNING BLIND EYES TO THEM THROUGH THEIR CODE OF SILENCE. NOW THAT THE TABOO IS DECLASSIFIED, THE CAN OF WORMS OPENED, OTHER LEADERS AND POLICY MAKERS IN THAT REGION HAVE NO MORE SAND BAGS TO HIDE BEHIND. TO MY IN LAWS IN JORDAN, NO MORE EXCUSES. STOP EXCLUDING YOUR OWN BLOOD GRAND CHILDREN FROM CONTRIBUTING TOWARDS THE ECONMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR COUNTRY SIMPLY BECAUSE THEIR FATHERS ARE NOT JORDANIANS. THIS SAUDI NEW POLICY COULD NOT HAVE COME AT THE BEST TIME WHEN JORDAN ADVERTISED 22 JOB OPENINGS THAT CLEARLY SAID, QUOTE " WOMEN NEED NOT TO APPLY ". LET US FACE IT, THESE PRACTICES ARE JOB, PRODUCTIVITY AND DEVELOPEMENT KILLERS. NOW, THE SAUDI CAN START TO STOP IMPORTING DRIVERS AND LET WOMEN JOIN THE WORK FORCE AND DRIVE THEMSELVES TO WORK. WE HAVE SHOT OUT THE SO-CALLED DIS-HONOR KILLINGS, QATAR HAS ADOPTED THE POLICY THAT GIVES OFFICIAL RESIDENCE LIKE GREEN CARDS TO THOSE WHO QUALIFY EITHER BY MARRIAGE OR LENGHT OF RESIDENCE IN THEIR COUNTRY WHILE CONTRIBUTING TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF QATAR. WHILE WE WELCOME AND CELEBERATE THIS NEW POLICY IN SAUDI, JORDAN SHOULD GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD TO ABOLISH ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AND SLAVERY OF WOMEN IN THE KINGDOM. NOT LONG AGO, WOMEN SOCCER WORLD CUP WAS HELD IN JORDAN AND WE ALL ENJOYED IT LIKE WE DO IN MESS SCCCER TOURNAMENTS AND AS FAR AS I HAVE SEEN, THE HEAVENS HAS NOT FALLEN FROM THE SKY SINCE THAT TOURNAMENT. ECONOMIC SRANGULATION OF WOMEN IS A FORM OF SLAVERY BECAUSE IT COMPELLS WOMEN TO DEPEND ON MEN AND THEREFORE MUST OBEY OF FACE "DIS-HONOR" PUNISHMENT OF ALL KINDS. AT THE THE END OF THE DAY, I BLAME THE WEST THAT HAS CONTINUED TO DO BUSINESS WITH THOSE WHO IGNOR ALL THE INTERNATIONAL LAWS AGAINST ALL KINDS OF HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS BUT PICK ON COUNTRIES THAT ARE DEFENCELESS FOR SANCTIONS. THE SO-CALLED SANCTIONS MUST AND SHOULD BE USED AGAINST ALL FORMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE AND NOT REWARDING THEM. NOW THAT WE HAVE THE MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY IN THAT REGION ON OUR SIDE, ITS TIME FOR OTHERS TO START TO COME CLEAN. LET US KEEP THIS DIALOG GOING BECAUSE WE NEED IT TO CLEAN OUR WORLD OF ALL FORMS OF BIGET FROM ISLAMOPHOBIA, TO DRIVING WHILE BLACK AND ALL OTHER FORMS OF PHOBIAS.

On behalf of all American Women in Jordan and at home I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the ladies of Saudi Arabia on a no doubt hard-won victory that I'm sure they're positively delighted about.Here's to the open road and the simple joy of shifting into top gear with nothing ahead of you but horizon.Very pleased for Saudi women. They've campaigned and fought hard for this reform and I'm glad the Jordan Times is acknowledging that.But a lot of things the Saudi Woman still can't do, the battle is not over .

Saudi Arabia applies traditions and customs of the middle ages not Islam . Can you just provide one evidence either from the Holy Quaran or the teachings of the Prophet - peace be upon him - bans a Muslim woman from riding animals or driving a vehicle . The only law the government is sticking to firmly is decapitations not because they love the religion but to save their thrones .

I totally agree with Mohammad Allawneh's comments.

That women can drive is fine but it should be outlawed to drive wearing a niqab hijab or burka because they cannot see anything on the left side and see nothing on the right side therefore... all the results will be one accident after another.How can they see thru that stuff they wear.

Women driving ban lifting is a good step in the right direction and more to follow in the near future . Soon you will see Saudi and expatriates women walking the streets of Makkah and Madinah in mini skirts and topless blouses

FINALLY AT LAST CHANGES ARE COMMING TO THE KINGDOM AND I SALUTE THE KING AND HIS PROGRESSIVE ADMINISTRATION. THIS IS THE FIRST STEEP TOWARDS TAKING THE PLACE THAT THE KINGDOM CAN STAND AND SHOW EXAMPLE AND LEAD THE REGION TOWARDS THE NEXT GENERATION. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE LATE THAN THE LATE SO THE KING SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED BY THE WORLD AT LARGE. I WISH THE KING, THE KINDOM AND ITS PEOPLE ESPECIALLY THE WOMEN A VERY HAPPY DAY AND WE ARE ALL BEHIND YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE.
PROGRESSIVE IDEAS OF MORDERNIZATION.

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