ABU DHABI, 28th September, 2017 (WAM) -- A UAE newspaper has said that Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant women in the kingdom the right to drive is a big leap in the right direction.
The decree is seen as a positive marker in its drive towards gender equality, and it will help women play a more active role in nation-building. It will also enable them to take up jobs and initiatives that require unhindered movement, thereby affording women the opportunity to participate fully in the country’s economy and prosperity.
Not surprisingly, the news, announced on Saudi state television and at a media event held simultaneously in Washington, was received with much joy and happiness both within and outside the kingdom. US President Donald Trump commended the Saudi decision, hailing it as a "positive step"."While Saudi Arabia had no formal ban on women driving, the non-issuance of driving permits and licences meant that no woman could drive in the kingdom. All that is now set to change from next year when the royal decree comes into effect," said Gulf News in an editorial on Thursday.
The paper continued, "Many activists have praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who had earlier promised to usher in the much-needed change to the country’s driving laws. Consequently a ministerial body has been set up that will offer its advice to the government within a month and then implement the royal order by next June."The Saudi march towards modernisation that started with King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in the late 60s has continued through the decades. King Faisal’s inclusive reform in education and his bold strides to broaden political representation were complimented years later by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s appointment of women to the Shura Council, the kingdom’s highest advisory body.
Very soon women were allowed to run for office in the country’s municipal council elections, heralding a new beginning."King Salman has continued with the modernisation project. With orders to government agencies last year to publish lists of services that women can access and other progressive measures, King Salman has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at emancipating female members of society from a state of socioeconomic dependency.
"Recently women were allowed to enter the National Stadium in Riyadh to celebrate the 87th anniversary of the founding of the kingdom. The latest initiative to allow women to drive is in line with the Saudi vision of more youth power, social organisation and women’s empowerment."The changes happening in the Saudi society will go a long way towards making it a much more egalitarian society," concluded the Dubai-based daily.