First Saudi women get their driving licences

First Saudi women get their driving licences

First Saudi women get their driving licences

The issuance of the licences means that for the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in Saudi Arabia.

It added that several centres across the country were distributing the Saudi cards and that women who had foreign licences had to take a brief practical test to ensure they were proficient behind the wheel.

Women driving was seen as immoral by the ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia.

Eight were temporarily released, pending the completion of a procedural review, the Saudi Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement on Sunday.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted Western allies in a bid to open up the deeply-conservative Muslim kingdom and diversify its oil-dependent economy, the region's largest.

Women have to adhere to strict dress codes, must not associate with unrelated men, and if they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by - or receive written permission from - a male guardian.

A Saudi woman speaking to an officer before her driving exam, at the General Department of Traffic in the capital, Riyadh.

While Saudi law has never explicitly banned women from driving, women were not issued driving licences.

SPA said authorities started swapping global licences for Saudi ones in multiple locations across the kingdom, with women applicants made to undergo a "practical test".

However, some people who campaigned for the right to drive remain under arrest.

"Driving to me represents having a choice - the choice of independent movement".

"Now we have videos of traffic police handing over these driver's licences to divert the world's attention from the fact that the women who were actually behind championing the cause. are not only in prison but have been charged and potentially face very, very long sentences", she said.

Almost 50 women took part in that first driving protest some 28 years ago.

Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions, according to SPA.

The European Parliament has urged Saudi Arabia to release all detained human rights defenders in the country.

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