In a first, women across Saudi Arabia were legally allowed to drive for the first time since 1957 on June 24, 2018, thus, ending the world’s last ban on female drivers which was seen as a symbol of women’s repression in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom. Following the lifting of the ban, women in Saudi Arabia fired up their engines and hit the roads, marking the moment they had waited for since the issuance of the royal decree by King Salman on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women.
Following the royal decree, driving schools for women were set up in the kingdom. Female driving instructors who obtained licenses abroad were offered with the teaching positions. As estimated, over 3 million women are expected to drive in the country by 2020.
Saudi King Salman on September 16, 2017, issued a royal decree that allows women to drive cars. The end of the ban was ordered as part of the reforms pushed by King’s young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by June 24, 2018.
Saudi Arabia has been widely criticised for being the only country in the world that bans women from driving. In Saudi Arabia, women are legally subject to a male guardian, who must give approval to basic decisions they make in fields including education, employment, marriage, travel plans and even medical treatment. The driving ban had been a longstanding stain on Saudi Arabia’s international image. However, there has been a gradual improvement on some women’s issues in recent years ever since Mohammed Bin Salman was appointed as the Crown Prince on June 21, 2017.