Making History, Saudi Arabia Issues Driver's Licenses to 10 Women

Saudi Arabia begins issuing driving licenses to women

Women with worldwide driving licenses were able to swap theirs for a Saudi one, but were made to undergo a "practical test".

"Ten Saudi women made history on Monday when they were issued driving licences", said the information ministry's Centre for International Communication (CIC).

Other women across the country have been preparing for the right to drive on June 24 by taking driving courses on female-only college campuses.

People voiced their joy on social media as many posted photos of the newly-issued women's driving licenses.

The AP notes that the women had already possessed licenses in other countries.

However, the news comes at the same time that four iconic Saudi women's rights activists, who had campaigned for the right to drive, remain under arrest and facing possible trial.

The decision to lift a ban on women driving in the kingdom has been hailed as proof of a progressive trend, but the recent arrests have soured that image.

But casting a shadow on his reforms, Saudi Arabia last week said it detained 17 people for "undermining" the kingdom's security, in what campaigners have dubbed a sweeping crackdown against activists.

Authorities said eight of the detainees had been "temporarily released" until their investigation is completed.

Rights groups have identified numerous detainees as women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative country's male guardianship system.

Saudi women have pushed for the government to lift the ban and some have even taken video or selfies of themselves behind the wheel as a form of protest.

The Saudi Driving School, at Princess Nourah University, the first for women in the capital, was launched in partnership with the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, an established driving school in the region. They face a range of charges including communicating with people and organisations hostile to the kingdom and providing financial and moral support to hostile elements overseas.

Prince Salman also attempted to appeal to young Saudis by opening the country to more entertainment, allowing music concerts and bringing the first commercial movie theater to Saudi Arabia this year.

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