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Saudi women hit the road as driving ban is lifted

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:34s - Published < > Embed

Saudi women hit the road as driving ban is lifted

Saudi women hit the road as driving ban is lifted

Women across Saudi Arabia took to the roads in the early hours of Sunday (June 24), ushering in the end of the world's last ban on female drivers.

Lea Jakobiak reports.

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Saudi women hit the road as driving ban is lifted

It's just after midnight in Riyadh and Majdooleen Al-Ateeq is about to do something she has never done before - legally drive on Saudi Arabia's roads.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAUDI WOMAN DRIVER, MAJDOOLEEN AL-ATEEQ, SAYING: "It feels weird, I'm so happy.

There are no words that can explain what I'm feeling right now." On Sunday Saudi Arabia's lifted the world's last ban on women driving.

It's long been seen as a symbol of women's repression in the deeply conservative Muslim Kingdom.

The ban's lifting - part of a series of reforms pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is hailed by Western allies as proof of a new, progressive trend.

But as Reuters' Stephen Kalin explains, there's still a long road ahead.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, SAUDI ARABIA, STEPHEN KALIN, SAYING: "The truth is that only a small percentage of Saudi women have actually received their licenses so far.

Most of the women who are driving today have lived abroad, so they definitely belong to a certain strata of society.

And we still have yet to see how society will respond when more and more women take to the road." Across the country, driving schools for women have opened, women car accident inspectors are being trained to deal with incidents involving female drivers, and there are plans to open holding cells for female traffic violators.

It's also expected to boost the economy with industries from car sales to insurance set to reap the rewards.

But this reform has also been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including against some of the very activists who previously campaigned against it.

They now sit in jail as their peers take to the road.




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