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.


Special services to aid pilgrims with special needs

Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on August 17, 2018 prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. (AFP)
Updated 44 min 26 sec ago
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Special services to aid pilgrims with special needs

  • These guides provide clarification for issues concerning Hajj, Umrah, and the Qur’an in Braille language format
  • There are special vehicles for those who need to be transported from the Holy Mosque

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques has begun services to aid pilgrims with special needs during this year’s Hajj season. Among these services is a small talking watch for the visually impaired. These watches tell the time and prayer times via audio alerts.
Other services provided by the Presidency’s special needs department are allocated entrances to ease access to prayers. These are gates 63 and 68, which were built during the expansion period of the late King Fahd.
There are also specialized paths for pilgrims with disabilities in mobility and the visually impaired with their own dedicated entrances.
Other provisions include a pen that serves as a Qur’an reader for the visually impaired and elderly, and a service for holding and carrying copies of the Qur’an for those who are unable to hold them.
Another service is the distribution of canes for the blind and visually impaired to help guide their path while walking.
A device that assists in Tayamom (dry ablution) is also available.
The special needs unit will also distribute booklets on how to perform Umrah and Hajj, along with guides who can show guests how to pray and explain important rituals to be performed.