Saudi Arabia issues first driving licenses to 10 women

In a historic moment, Saudi Arabia on Monday issued driving licenses to 10 women.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman gave the order, which reverses a decades-old prohibition in the conservative kingdom.

Along with other reform efforts, such as lifting a ban on women attending sporting events and allowing movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, permitting women to drive has been a focus for human rights activists in the country.

A video posted on Twitter shows the first woman being handed a driving license by officials, reports Al Arabiya. “Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia,” the translated tweet says.

The first 10 women took a brief driving test before receiving a license, as they’d already held licenses to drive in other countries, such as the U.K. and Lebanon.


Saudi women will be allowed to start driving in the kingdom on June 24, according to the country’s General Department of Traffic, based in Riyadh.

In addition, driving schools have been set up in five Saudi cities.

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.

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.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has previously said the U.S. is “happy” with the decision to lift the ban, calling it “a great step in the right direction for that country.”

The crown prince’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce, up from about 22 percent now.