International desk – Saudi Arabia has withdrawn a ban on driving by women in the Kingdom where Islam was born as campaigners rejoice the decision that women will be behind the steering wheel.
King Salman promulgated the royal decree, according to BBC report.
The report says one female activist called it a “great victory”, while another said things would “never be the same again”.
The country’s US ambassador has described the move as “the right decision at the right time”.
The Gulf kingdom is the only country in the world that bans women from driving – and women are still subject to strict dress codes and gender segregation.
Until now, only men were allowed licences and women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.
“I couldn’t believe it. I started laughing and jumping and screaming. It’s a great victory, campaigner Sahar Nassif was quoted to have said by BBC.
“I’m going to buy my dream car, a convertible Mustang, and it’s going to be black and yellow!”
Meanwhile, Latifah Alshaalan, a member of the Shura council, a government advisory panel, told broadcaster Al Arabiya: “This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought not just years, but decades for.”
The country’s US ambassador, Prince Khaled bin Salman, confirmed that women would not have to get male permission to take driving lessons, and would be able to drive anywhere they liked.
Rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned for years to allow women to drive, and some women have been imprisoned for defying the rule.
Female activists organised collective protests in 1990, 2011 and 2013, and posted online videos of themselves driving.
In recent years, some members of the Saudi royal family have expressed support for ending the ban.
Last year, the government launched the Vision 2030 plan to modernise the economy – which was seen as a sign the country was moving towards reform, says BBC.