Saudi king lets women drive

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- Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) September 26, 2017I agree it's a encouraging sign, but banning women from driving ranks about 8,349th on Saudi Arabia's list of human rights violations.

Ms Sharif, the activist, described the driving ban's removal as "just the start to end long-standing unjust laws (that) have always considered Saudi women minors who are not trusted to drive their own destiny". She went on to tweet 'today was a historic day for women in Saudi Arabia as a decree was announced to lift the ban on women drivers'.

Riyadh's decision to overturn a ban on women driving in the kingdom spurs euphoria and sarcasm on social media.

Saudi Arabia's royalty still have far to go to liberate women from the so-called guardian system, a tribal tradition in which male relatives control numerous activities of women.

"I think our leadership understands our society is ready", Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said.

Midrange brands dominate the Saudi market, with Toyota, Hyundai-Kia and Nissan together commanding a 71 percent share of sales. It was unclear whether women would require their guardian's permission to apply for driving licences.

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Some hit back at sexist jokes that flooded Saudi Twitter in the wake of the driving ban being lifted, reminding people that Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest vehicle accidents rates, while only men are driving. Over the past two years, the kingdom has undergone a major political transition, with the ouster of the well-established Crown Prince, who had successfully quashed most of Al Qaeda in the kingdom. The Times also points out that policemen will have to learn how to interact to with female drivers in a country where men and women rarely interact with non-family members.

Other rules have loosened recently, with the government sponsoring concerts deemed un-Islamic by the clergy, allowing women into a large sports stadium for the first time and permitting them to dance beside men in a Riyadh street over last weekend.

That risks inflaming tensions with influential Wahhabi clerics with whom the ruling Al Saud has enjoyed a close strategic alliance since the kingdom's founding. The previous justifications provided by various religious scholars against women driving have proved nothing but a house of cards as the new decree has entitled women the right to drive.

Women make up only about 20 percent of Saudi workers, one of the lowest proportions in the world.

"Where is the (Grand) Mufti?" said another.