Historic day as Saudi women get behind the wheel to drive

Hannan Iskandar gets ready before she starts to drive her car in her neighborhood, in Al Khobar. (Reuters)

Saudi women were officially able to drive at the stroke of midnight on June 24 as a royal decree granting them the right to drivers’ licenses came into effect.

Traffic departments have begun implementing carefully planned procedures in preparation for the influx of cars expected to be on the roads. There is currently a 500 to 900 riyal imposed on women who drive before the ban is officially lifted.

“As a Saudi woman who has grown up with multiple expat drivers taking me around, it is empowering to know that I can soon explore my own country while in the driver's seat. I would be able to go to the pharmacy or buy groceries without waiting for someone to take me around,” Saudi citizen Jasmine Bager told Al Arabiya English months ahead of the June 24 expected day when the decree would come into effect.

“I think Saudi women—and men—have been ready for this change for some time. But like most things in the Kingdom, it took time to shift the minds as well as the hearts and prepare for the logistics of this,” she added.

“Today we are making history in the Kingdom. Our country was supporting the women and empowering them in the past decades and this one of the major steps in empowering the Saudi women. Now families can save the salaries of the drivers and benefit from it,” another citzen, Shahd, told Al Arabiya English from Jeddah.

Al Arabiya English has been on the ground documenting the historic moment:

VOX POPS: Saudi women speak on how driving will help in their daily lives

WATCH: Saudi woman talks empowerment as she takes the driver’s seat

VIDEO: Saudi women in drivers’ seats not only in cars, but motorcycles as well

An A-Z guide on how Saudi women can obtain their driver’s license

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Last Update: 06:52 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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