Women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

A man looks at the Houthi-controlled headquarters of the Yemeni army destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa Yemen

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to ban women from driving.

Women were also allowed into a sports stadium-previously a male-only arena-to watch a concert, a move that chimes with the government's Vision 2030 plan for social and economic reform.

The long-standing ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia has finally been lifted, the New York Times reports.

But perhaps the most powerful statement came from activist Manal Al Sharif (main picture), who left Saudi Arabia after fighting for the right for women to drive. The campaign fizzled after some women were jailed for driving.

As NPR's Deb Amos has reported, "Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that effectively prohibits women from driving, a ban supported by conservative clerics".

Saudi Arabia remains a male-dominated society. The Women's Council, newly established by Suudi administration, was founded at initiative of Prince Faisal bin Mishal, governor of Kassim province.

"Within the framework of the visit of the King of Saudi Arabia to Russian Federation, the RDIF with Saudi partners will announce the creation of new investment platform in the energy sectors, as well as investments in the industrial and infrastructure sectors", Dmitriev told reporters.

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The secretary-general of the United Nations has welcomed Saudi Arabia's move allowing women to drive in the Kingdom beginning next summer.

But some working Saudi women say hiring private drivers to get them to and from work eats up much of their pay, diminishing the incentive to work.

"Preventing a woman from driving a auto is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity", Alwaleed said.

The Saudi ambassador to Washington DC, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said to the press: "I think our leadership understands our society is ready".

The new regulations, issuing driver's licenses to men and women alike, are set to be implemented by June. The shock announcement, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record. However, this is about to change effective June 2018.

Nauert is calling it "a great step in the right direction for that country".

Women's rights activists since the 1990s have been pushing for the right to drive, saying it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law.

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