Saudi Arabia Is Finally Issuing Its First Driver's Licenses To Women

"The dream became a reality."

Long overdue history was finally made this week as Saudi Arabia issued driver's licenses to 10 women, before the country's ban on women drivers is officially lifted on June 24. According to the Saudi Press Agency (via Mashable), these national licenses were issued to women who had already received licenses in other countries.

King Salman issued a decree to lift the ban last September, as championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Before that, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world not to allow women to drive. The country also recently lifted its 35-year ban on movie theaters.

A video was shared on Twitter showing the first woman being handed her license by officials. Some of the women even shared images of their new licenses on Twitter. According to the New York Times, a woman named Ahlam al-Thunayan wrote, "The dream became a reality."

As Dr. Ruba Alzuhairi, who was studying at Saudi Arabia's first driving school for women, told CBS News in March, "This will also decrease some of the cost that I'm paying on taxis, on a driver. This will help me be independent."

However, as the Times points out, even as change is being made, a number of people who campaigned for women's right to drive have been detained in the country. Some are still being held and are accused of crimes that seek to "undermine the security and stability of the kingdom." 

As many as 2,000 Saudi women could reportedly receive their licenses next week. The change is a major step toward greater independence for women in the country, where they just earned the right to vote and run for public office in 2015. But there's still a long way to go. 

Cover image: Kdonmuang / Shutterstock.com

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