Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Drivers
Saudi Arabia has been, until now, the only kingdom which banned female motorists. But, thanks to the wide-ranging drive by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernise the conservative region, women will now be able to drive as the kingdom lifted its ban on women from driving in what seems to be a historic reform that is expected to usher a new era of social reform.
As soon as the ban was lifted on Sunday midnight, hundreds of women hit the road sitting behind wheel for the first time while a few even went on to blast some music as they were driving. Scores of women drivers have been ever since posting hundreds of photos and videos on social media in which they were seen driving for the first time.
Women in Saudi Arabia earlier had to depend on male relatives and chauffeurs to travel anywhere in the car and even to run simple errands. According to the authorities, they have already received around 120, 000 applications by women for driving licences and expect the numbers to increase further more. Pricewaterhouse Coppers also suggested that by 2020 around three million women in Saudi Arabia could receive licence and be driving on the roads.
Women’s driving schools that were opened after the ban was first announced in September last year are also seeing very long wait lists of women who have applied and are waiting for their license. Some women have also swapped their foreign driving licences
The lifting of driving ban on women is just one of the major changes that are planned by the Crown Prince who assumed power a year ago. Regarded as a risk-taker by many people, the 32-year old king has begun a massive sweeping campaign of liberalisation in the kingdom.
The Prince has launched the Vision 2030 mission which, according to him will be the blueprint of Saudi Arabia’s future which includes plans to reduce the country’s dependency on oil and diversify the economy while also bringing in major changes in many sectors of public service including health, education and also infrastructure.
Many of the experts also say that as Saudi Arabia moves away from being an economy that is predominantly dependant on oil, more households in the region will need dual incomes and such transformational initiatives will become essential in boosting the economy while also bringing greater freedom and equality.