(June 22, 2018 / JNS) The last and only nation in the world that bans female motorists will lift the restriction, as women are expected to be allowed to take the wheel in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The move is seen as part of an attempt by the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to modernize the country. He also lifted bans on cinemas and mixed-gender music concerts.
“Saudi women feel a sense of justice,” Najah al-Otaibi, a senior analyst at the Arabia Foundation think-tank told AFP. “They have long been denied a basic human right which has kept them confined and dependent on men, making it impossible to exercise a normal life.”
As many as 3 million Saudi women could earn driver’s licenses by 2020.
The prohibition on driving is based in strict interpretations of Islamic texts that suggest that the freedom of driving could lead to promiscuity or otherwise might be too advanced a skill for women.
The new measure is expected to increase the number of women in the workforce and may help to assist the country’s weakened economy.
However, nine of 17 people arrested for driving-related protest remain in prison, accused of compromising the kingdom’s security and providing aid to enemies of the state.
State-backed newspapers have accused them of being traitors.