Saudi King Salman yesterday ordered that women be allowed to drive cars, state media said, ending the kingdom’s status as the only country where that is forbidden.
The royal decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by June next year, according to state news agency Saudi Press Agency.
It stipulated that the move must “apply and adhere to the necessary Shariah standards”, without providing details, and said a majority of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars had approved its permissibility.
Saudi Arabia has been widely criticised for being the only country that bans women from driving, despite ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.
Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions.
The kingdom has been opening more areas for women through the government’s modernising reforms, which have sparked tensions with influential clerics upon whose support the ruling family relies.