Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

First Saudi Women Get Driver's Licenses

First Saudi Women Get Driver's Licenses

Saudi Arabia has issued the first driving licences to 10 women as it prepares to lift the world's only ban on women driving on June 24.

On Monday, the kingdom's general traffic directorate starting replacing internationally driving licenses held by women with Saudi ones throughout the country.

The women already had valid licenses from other countries, which allowed them to qualify for Saudi licenses ahead of June 24, when a countrywide ban on women driving will be reversed.

Saudi Arabia's laws require women to seek male permission for various decisions and actions, and that extends to the ban on women driving.

For the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in Saudi Arabia.

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Hanadi Alsunaid said she's "looking forward to drive in her own country and go to work by herself, thanking the leadership for continuously empowering women".

They took a brief driving exam and eye test before being issued with the licences at the traffic department in the capital, Riyadh.

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All of the newly promoted officials are younger than their predecessors, even though they are all in their 60s. A senior U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that the three leaders had been ousted.

At least 17 activists were arrested on suspicion of trying to undermine the kingdom's security and stability, a case that local rights activists said has primarily targeted individuals who advocated for women's rights.

Despite the historic step, however, some women who campaigned for the right to drive remain behind bars.

Several excited women expressed their delight and joy over becoming holders of a driving license, SPA said.

Authorities said eight of the detainees had been "temporarily released" until their investigation is completed.

The crackdown seems to contradict Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's public relations campaign highlighting his efforts to modernize Saudi Arabia.

"The first group of women received their Saudi driving licenses. Now we have that option", said Rema Jawdat, a government official who said she'd driven while overseas.

"Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions", reports SBS. State-linked media have referred to the group as "foreign embassy agents" and branded them traitors.

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