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.


FaceOf: Princess Lamia bint Majid, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies

Princess Lamia bint Majid
Updated 18 November 2018
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FaceOf: Princess Lamia bint Majid, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies

  • She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations, marketing and advertising from Misr International University in Cairo, Egypt
  • In 2017, she was awarded the prestigious Arab Women’s Award for her compassion and charitable efforts

Saudi Princess Lamia bint Majid has been secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies since April 2016, and is a member of its board of trustees.

The Riyadh-based charitable foundation supports and initiates projects worldwide to empower women and the youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief and create cultural understanding through education. It has donated $4 billion to humanitarian causes in more than 60 countries.

Before becoming secretary-general, Princess Lamia was executive manager of media and communication at Alwaleed Philanthropies between 2014 and 2016. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations, marketing and advertising from Misr International University in Cairo, Egypt.

In 2003, the princess founded Sada Al-Arab, a publishing company operating from Cairo, Beirut and Dubai. 

She also co-founded Media Codes Ltd. in Egypt, and the Fortune Media Group in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. 

She was editor in chief of Rotana magazine between 2004 and 2006, and of Mada magazine between 2002 and 2008. 

In 2017, she was awarded the prestigious Arab Women’s Award for her compassion and charitable efforts. 

“Our aim is to ensure gender equity,” the princess said during her speech at the first World Tolerance Summit in Dubai. It is “a message of tolerance when you highlight the strength of women,” she added.

Princess Lamia highlighted the need to bridge gaps between Islam and the West, and the lack of research into the “gaps or shortcomings” that prevent more tolerance in society.