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Saudi Women Are Finally Allowed To Drive As Ban Officially Ends

Travelers Today       By    MJ De Castro

Updated: Jun 26, 2018 10:09 PM EDT

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Women in Saudi Arabia are finally driving in the busy streets for the first time after a decades-old ban that prohibits them to drive was finally lifted.

Rose petals adorned the bustling streets as hundreds of women who finally have their license did their inaugural drives. One Saudi woman even took her dad for a ride to make up for all the time her father drove her to places.

The lift on the driving ban is a testament to the end of one of the most popular and deep-rooted symbols of inequality and sexism in Saudi Arabia. The move has also been hailed as one of the major steps forward to the growth of the country's women's rights.

Saudi's 32-year old Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made the women's dream to drive finally come to life in order to attain his goal to raise the women's involvement in the workplace by 30 percent in 12 years.

New Career Opportunity

This presents a new career opportunity for women such as Ohoud Al Arifi, who now works as an uber driver.

Gone are the days when women have to rely on their fathers or husbands to get to places or spend a huge part of their salaries on a driver or a chauffeur. Now, they can get behind the wheel and drive themselves to their workplace or even work as a driver.

Official spokesman of the Ministry of Interior Maj. Gen. Mansour Al Turki said that the demand for getting driver's licenses is very high. The Senior Ministry of Interior and Traffic Directorate officials added that more than 120,000 women applied for a license last Sunday.

All Out Support

Baheirah Khusheim, 33, said in an interview with CNN that the support that women get from the officers and the community while getting their licenses is unbelievable. As soon as the license is handed out, all women will hear are praises from strangers.

Doctor Mona Al-Fares, a doctor, who waited excitedly in her car with her children and husband before the ban was lifted told CNN that she is surprised and cannot believe that she can drive in her own country. She added that she feels happy, relieved, and free.

The decision to finally allow women to drive was announced last September and the country issued the first licenses to women earlier this month. The ban lift is also expected to have benefits in Saudi Arabia's tourism.

Activism In Saudi Arabia

The lift on the longlasting ban is a culmination of the efforts of activists campaigning for women's rights who, at times, have been detained, or imprisoned for their efforts.

For some women, the happiness brought about by the success of the ban lift is tempered by the arrest of a number of Saudi rights activists last month. A number of women who were arrested played a vital role in the quest to fight for women's right to drive.

Until now, there are still many things women cannot do in the country without a man due to the male guardianship system. This includes work, right to travel, and even the right to marry.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

Tags
Saudi Arabia, gender equality, driving
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