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'A dream come true': First Saudi women receive drivers licenses

'A dream come true': First Saudi women receive drivers licenses

'A dream come true': First Saudi women receive drivers licenses

The surprise move comes as a number of women who had campaigned for the right to drive are under arrest.

The announcement said 2,000 more Saudi women could receive their licenses next week, but it provided no details about who they were or where the licenses would be issued.

The self-styled reformer, who recently undertook a global tour aimed at reshaping his kingdom's austere image, has sought to break with long-held restrictions on women and the mixing of the genders.

"Susan Newbon, Canadian Deborah Sherwood and American Norma Adrianzen will be able to train women from June 24", the BBC reported.

On Saturday, the Saudi government "temporarily" released eight activists who were arrested in May for protesting against the ban.

Despite the historic step, however, some women who campaigned for the right to drive remain behind bars.

The move, which follows a government crackdown on women activists, is part of a much-publicised liberalisation drive launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he seeks to modernise the petro-state.

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In Saudi Arabia, women are legally required to get approval from a male guardian for legal decisions.

Ten Saudi women were issued national licences after they swapped their foreign ones at the General Department of Traffic in multiple cities, the government said.

They now 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.

In September, King Salman issued the royal decree giving women permission to drive in Saudi Arabia.

An estimated five driving schools for women have since been launched in the Kingdom.

The kingdom faces steep economic challenges and has a burgeoning young population that has access to the world through the internet and sees women in neighbouring Muslim countries driving freely. While Saudi law has never explicitly banned women from driving, women were not issued with driving licences. After years of protests by local women activists and pressure by worldwide human rights groups, however, the country announced last year it would be lifting the decades-long ban.

The European Parliament last week approved a resolution calling for the unconditional release of the detained activists and other human rights defenders, while urging a more vocal response from EU nations.

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