Saudi Arabia to end ban on women driving

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Carmakers joined governments in welcoming the order by Saudi Arabia's King Salman that new rules allowing women to drive be drawn up within 30 days and implemented by June 2018, removing a stain on the country's worldwide image.

"Saudi Arabia allows women to drive", tweeted the official account of the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The shock announcement is part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.

Twenty-four hours after King Salman issued a decree end the ban, the government announced that a woman had been appointed as assistant mayor of Al Khubar governorate. She believes this new law, that will take effect June 2018, is empowering for all women, including in our state.

In Saudi Arabia a jubilant atmosphere is prevailing among the women and they went onto greet each other on hearing the long awaited good news of the royal decree permitting women to drive.

Halthloul and another female activist, Maysaa al-Amoudi, who was also detained, have been credited with successfully campaigning against the driving ban.

There was some opposition online, however, with some men criticising the decision on Twitter under the slogan "the people refuse women driving".

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The 2016 report issued Monday breaks down trends nationwide, with numbers for practically every city in the country. Property crimes in 2016 were down more than one percent, marking the 14th consecutive year that figured declined.

Last year, the country's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, laid out a bold vision to reshape the conservative Islamic society.

It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for a driving licence. Others argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. Yet despite this high level of education, more than a third of women remain unemployed. Women already dominate men in numbers at universities. Until then Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world to enforce gender apartheid behind the wheel.

We take into consideration (or we study) the pros of allowing women to drive and the cons of banning them from driving, while taking into account the necessary legal rules and adhering to them.

The decision has sparked euphoria and disbelief among activists in the kingdom, which was the only country in the world to still ban women from driving.

The decree added that the majority of the Council of Senior Scholars - the kingdom's top clerical body, whose members are appointed by the king - had agreed that the government could allow women to drive if done in accordance with syariah law.

Sept 28: Saudi appointed its first spokeswoman, Fatimah Baeshen, at its embassy in Washington.