Women in Saudi Arabia are now legally allowed to drive from today, June 24, 2018, as Saudi Arabia lifts its ban on women driving, which had been in place since 1957.
It’s a historic moment for women who have been at the mercy of their husbands, fathers, brothers and drivers to move around. The ban had relegated women to the backseat, restricting when they could meet friends, where they could spend their time and how they could plan out their day.
“It feels beautiful. It was a dream for us so when it happens in reality, I am between belief and disbelief— between a feeling of joy and astonishment,” said Mabkhoutah al-Mari as she pulled up to order a drive-thru coffee on her way to work.
The Saudi government, under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, is phasing in an ongoing series of reforms to both diversify the Saudi economy and to liberalize its society. The reforms also seek to empower women by restoring them basic legal rights, allowing them increasing independence and encouraging their participation in the workforce.
Saudi Arabia is among the most conservative countries in the world and women have traditionally had much fewer rights than men.