Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time. Saudi Press Agency reports, Government ministries are to prepare reports within 30 days and the order will be implemented by June next year.
The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licences for men and women alike, it added.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to forbid women from driving.
Rights groups have campaigned for years to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.
The move, which has been welcomed by the United States, represents a significant opening for women in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights have steadily and slowly gained ground over the years. Saudi women remain largely under the whim of male relatives due to guardianship laws.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has welcomed King Salman’s announcement allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia, calling it a positive step.
In a tweet Guterres wrote: “I welcome Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift the ban on women drivers. An important step in the right direction.”
The ruling will see a consultation over the next 30 days on how to implement the new rules granting women the right to apply for driving licenses and it will be brought into force in June 2018.
The United States on Tuesday welcomed Saudi King Salman’s order, reported by Saudi state media, allowing women to drive cars.
“We would certainly welcome that,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. “It’s a great step in the right direction for that country.” According to Saudi state news agency SPA, a royal degree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to provide advice within 30 days and to implement the order by June 2018.