Saudi Arabia on Monday issued driving licenses to 10 women. The kingdom was the only country in the world to still prohibit women from driving.
Permitting women to drive has been a focus for human rights activists in the country. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman gave the order, which reverses a decades-old prohibition in the conservative kingdom. The first 10 women took a brief driving test before receiving a license, as they’d already held licenses to drive in other countries, such as the U.K. and Lebanon. “The general directorate of traffic today started replacing international driving licenses recognized in the kingdom with Saudi licenses,” the Saudi Press Agency announced Monday.
Procedures to replace and obtain licenses for everyone are expected to be announced soon. Saudi women will be allowed to start driving in the kingdom on June 24, according to the country’s General Department of Traffic. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has previously said the U.S. is “happy” with the decision to lift the ban, calling it “a great step in the right direction for that country.” Under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the kingdom has pushed forward an agenda that aims to remove many of the traditional restrictions on women’s participation in society. A video of the historic moment when first female driving license was issued in Saudi Arabia became quickly viral. Five Saudi universities have launched driving schools for women.