Ten women, who exchanged their foreign licences for Saudi ones at the General Department of Traffic, will be joined by some 2,000 women next week
“It’s a dream come true that I am about to drive in the Kingdom. The moment I got the news about driving was unbelievable for me – ” Rema Jawdat, a risk analyst, at the Ministry of Economy and Planning
RIYADH, June 4 (CIC) – Ten Saudi women made history on Monday when they were issued driving licences just weeks before the lifting of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia on June 24. The issuance of the licences means that for the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in the Kingdom. Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licenced drivers in the Kingdom.
The 10 women – all of whom exchanged foreign driving licences for Saudi licences at the General Department of Traffic in the Saudi capital of Riyadh and other cities – were fully aware of the significance of their experience and generally overjoyed at being part of such an historic moment.
“I have 12 years of driving experience in Lebanon, Switzerland, and the United States. It’s a dream come true that I am about to drive in the Kingdom. The moment I got the news about driving was unbelievable for me,” said Rema Jawdat, a risk analyst, at the Ministry of Economy and Planning.
“Driving, to me, represents having a choice; the choice of independent movement, now we have that option and that’s important.
The historic decision in September 2017 by King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive starting June 24 has been praised around the world. The decision is in line with the Vision 2030 blueprint for the future, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Women’s empowerment is an important element in Vision 2030 and the future of Saudi Arabia.
Tahani Aldosemani, Assistant Professor and Undersecretary of the Deanship of the Technology Department at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University in Al-Kharj, about 77 km south of the capital Riyadh, exchanged her U.S.-issued driving licence for a Saudi one on Monday.
“I lived in the United States while earning my PhD for 4 years, traveling and moving between states without any problem or violation of law,” Aldosemani said.
“Driving for women is not just about driving a car; it enhances strength of character, self-confidence, and decision-making skills. It also instills a sense of responsibility for yourself, your vehicle, the road, and the people around you, not to mention the economic and social dimensions of driving.”
Esraa Albuti, an Executive Director at Ernst & Young, was also beaming as she brandished her brand new Saudi driving licence:
“I’m proud of the news about driving. It’s a step forward, and it will add a lot to the lives of women. As a working woman, I need to move around a lot at different times of the day, and it is hard to have a driver dedicated to me 24 hours a day. I would say that even when a driver is available, there will still be difficulties, so what would women who live through harder circumstances than me say.”
In preparation for the far-reaching effects of the new policy, a number of recent automotive exhibitions in Riyadh and the port city of Jeddah have attracted crowds of women seeking to learn about automobile culture, car dealers and insurance companies.
Attendees were also informed of special offers for new female drivers, educated on car accessories and given the chance to take a spin in a driving simulator
General Department of Traffic’s Director, Major General Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Bassami, announced last month that all preparations for women in Saudi Arabia to start driving have been completed.