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First Saudi women receive driving licences amid crackdown

05 June 2018
First Saudi women receive driving licences amid crackdown

Authorities in Saudi Arabia issued the first driver's license to a woman on Monday as the process began to enable women to drive there for the first time in decades.

According to Arab News, the woman, who already had an worldwide driving license, was able to obtain a Saudi license after officials confirmed the validity of the global license and required her to take a driving test.

Instagram down as problems on app are reported throughout the night'The general directorate of traffic started replacing worldwide driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences'.

The ban is scheduled to be removed this month, with licenses being issued from 24 June, making Saudi Arabia the last country in the world to permit women to obtain driving licenses.

The first 10 women took a brief driving test before receiving a license, as they'd already held licenses to drive in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Lebanon.

The tweet containing the video included the caption, "Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia", Arab News reported.

Driving schools for women have been set up across five cities in the conservative kingdom, and teachers will include Saudi women who obtained their licenses overseas.

The 10 women received their licenses after completing a brief driving test. Saudi Arabia's prosecutor said Sunday that 17 people had been detained in recent weeks on suspicion of trying to undermine security and stability, a case activists said targeted prominent women's rights campaigners.

They have not only risked arrest by pushing for years for the right to drive, but have also called for an end to guardianship laws that give male relatives the final say over a woman marrying or traveling overseas.

In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of a decades-long ban on women driving. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

Ultraconservatives viewed women driving as immoral and warned women would be subject to sexual harassment if they drove.

The move comes a few days after, Amnesty International called on the "international community and allies of Saudi Arabia" to exert pressure on Riyadh to immediately and unconditionally release women's rights defenders now detained in the Arab kingdom. It may also be a message to activists not to push demands out of sync with the government's own agenda, they said.