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.


Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

Children attending an open-air Arabic school in February at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they were learning to read the Qur’an. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

  • Al-Mouallimi: International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity
  • In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, said Saudi Arabia's top diplomat at the UN

JEDDAH: Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable and punished for their crimes, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity, he added. “We witnessed a new massacre committed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, which killed dozens of Palestinian martyrs and wounded thousands,” he said. 

“And for seven consecutive years, the world has witnessed bloodletting in Syria, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians using various means,” including “genocide,” he added. 

“In Myanmar, the world is watching as hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya are driven out of their homes that are burnt, their women raped and children displaced.”

In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, Al-Mouallimi said. 

He cited the example of four-year-old Jamila, who had been used as a human shield. She was saved by Saudi-led coalition forces and handed over to her family.

Saudi Arabia supports the formation of a committee of inquiry into Israel’s crimes in Gaza, and a mechanism to collect documents and evidence to hold perpetrators of war crimes in Syria accountable, Al-Mouallimi said.

He stressed the need to facilitate the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in a safe, dignified and voluntary way, and to hold accountable those who caused them harm.