International media reactions to King Salman’s historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women has been positive.
The royal decree issued on Tuesday ordered the establishment of a high-level committee of involving the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development to study the arrangements within 30 days and to ensure implementation by June 2018.
“The milestone was greeted with jubilation on social media, with the hashtag “Saudi women can drive” being used in a flood of tweets,” The Telegraph in London reported and quoted Saudi energy analyst, Amena Bakr who said it was a “massive victory for women in the kingdom.”
Merrit Kennedy of American non profit National Public Radio wrote “The king weighed the negative and positive points of the ban on women driving, the official Saudi Press Agency wrote, while also making sure that any new law was in compliance with Islamic law. SPA said the change was approved by a majority of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Saudi's highest religious body”.
The New York Times said that Saudi leaders also hope the new policy will help the economy by increasing women’s participation in the workplace. “Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives,” the times wrote.
This sentiment was echoed by CNN’s Nicole Gaouette and Elise Labott adding “It is just the latest in a series of changes that have been rippling through Saudi Arabia since the rise of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
Simeon Kerr of the Financial Times published: “Lifting the ban on driving carries significant symbolic weight as many Saudi women say the ban has come to represent many other obstacles that have prevented them from advancing and increasing their participation in society”.
“By allowing women to drive, Saudi Arabia's king has just proved his seriousness about modernizing Saudi society and empowering women's rights. It's very good news.” Said Tom Rogan in an opinion piece published by the Washington Examiner.
The Guardian said that the move had been widely anticipated “amid a transformation of many aspects of Saudi society that has been branded by one senior minister as “cultural revolution disguised as economic reform”.