Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Driving in the Conservative Kingdom

Saudi Women Gear Up For New Freedom As Driving Ban Ends Tomorrow

The ban had come to symbolize a "harsh subjugation of women", The Post's Kareem Fahim wrote.

Saudi Arabia fell into recession past year when GDP fell 0.5% due in large part to weaker oil output.

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. One of the most talked about reforms in the conservative kingdom is women getting the right to drive, a right they had been denied for a long time.

Other women used similar language to describe their maiden driving experiences.

Not all women are driving at once, though.

Today marks the first day that women are allowed to legally drive in Saudi Arabia.

Some went out at the stroke of midnight - when the law was officially overturned - and cruised along Jeddah's seaside road.

However not all women will be in a position to obtain a driving license.

The 27-year-old mother of two is a driving instructor for women and already had a driver's license from the USA, where she'd spent time in Tennessee studying.

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They were accused of "suspicious contact with foreign entities", according to a statement on Saudi Arabia's official news agency.

Aseel Al-Hamad will make another breakthrough for Saudi Arabian women on Sunday by driving a Formula One auto ahead of the French Grand Prix.

But she told CNN last month she had canceled the upcoming trip out of fear for her safety. "We have seen a decent amount of people saying they would keep a driver on to take children to school", she said. Tashkandi, with her husband Dr Ismael Baksh in the back seat, took an Arab News reporter for a spin yesterday. "Character assassination. We are seeing that same pattern again now".

With guardianship laws still in effect, women from more conservative families may still be barred from driving by their male guardians. "To be honest everyone wants to relax and sit in the backseat and have someone to drive for them".

But it has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including against some of the very activists who previously campaigned against the ban. "He will move the country (forward) faster", she said.

Meanwhile, businesses such as spas, cafés, hotels and restaurants were offering something in return for Saudi women showing their licenses.

Hotels such as the Narcissus in Riyadh and Sheraton Damman were also celebrating women driving by offering a free night's stay and dinners at their top restaurants for the first women to arrive in their own cars.

She is also the first woman to import a Ferrari into Saudi Arabia, and has taken her 458 Spider to racetracks around the world to take part in track days, workshops and professional racing courses.

Activists and diplomats have speculated that the arrests of more than a dozen women's rights advocates over the past month were aimed at appeasing conservative elements or at sending a message to activists not to push demands too far.

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