King Salman issues decree allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia

King Salman. (SPA file photo)
Updated 27 September 2017
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King Salman issues decree allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it would allow women to drive in the Kingdom, in the latest move in a string of social and economic reforms underway in the country.

King Salman issued the decree, according to a royal court statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” the SPA said.

The decree orders the formation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the edict within 30 days and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018.

The move was announced on television and also by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Saudi Arabia allows women to drive,” the ministry confirmed on Twitter.

The decree referred to the "negative effects of not allowing women to drive vehicles, and the positive effects envisaged from allowing them to do so" within the context of Islamic laws.

The prohibition is considered a social issue in the Kingdom, as there is no actual law or religious edict that prohibits it. 

For years, the topic has been the center of extensive debate in government, media and social circles.


'Huge step'

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Khaled bin Salman, described the decision of allowing women to drive as a “huge step.”  

“It's not just a social change, it's part of economic reform,” he said. “Our leadership believes this is the right time to do this change because in Saudi Arabia, we have a young, dynamic open society.” 

The ambassador said women will not need to get permission from legal guardians to get a license.

Furthermore, if a woman has a driver’s license in another Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country, she's allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, he said.


Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

Updated 25 April 2019
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Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

AL-QADDIYA: More details about the Dakar Rally expected to take place in January 2020 in Saudi Arabia were released on Thursday by the Kingdom's General Sports Authority at an event in Al-Qaddiya.

The race starts on Jan. 5 in Jeddah, with the drivers set to race through Al-Madinah, Tabuk and Ha’il regions before a having a rest day in Riyadh. From the capital, the route winds its way back toward the coast through the Asir region and ends in the city of Al-Qaddiya on Jan. 12.

Speaking at the event, the chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal announced a 10-year partnership with the Dakar Rally, saying: "We want the world to see the captivating desert of Saudi Arabia and to get to know the good and hospitable people of the Kingdom that looks forward to receiving the world.

“Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030 of which sport is a basic pillar.

“In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”

It was announced earlier this month that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time in the Middle East.

The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009. The gruelling multi-stage rally was previously held in Africa but was relocated after terrorist threats in Mauritania in 2008.

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said when the race announcement was made: “I have always wanted to participate in Dakar Rally, while I wasn’t fortunate to achieve that ambition, I’m now part of achieving a much bigger dream for my country as Dakar comes to the Middle East region for the first time ever.”

CEO of Qiddiya project Michael Reininger said: "Qiddiya will soon become the centre of the motorsports world by virtue of an unparalleled collection of on track and off road facilities and a set of experiences and events that have never been assembled in one place before.”

The CEO of the rally's organizing company, Amaury Sport Organization, Yann Le Moenner thanked the princes for their commitment to bringing the rally to Saudi Arabia, adding: “Crossing the best deserts of the world has always been in the DNA of the Dakar, to discover and share.”

Meanwhile, the drivers involved in the rally have been in Saudi Arabia soaking up local culture and experiencing some of the desert landscapes they will drive through in January.