Car Culture

10 Saudi women get driver's licenses before nationwide ban lifted

These history-making Saudi women exchanged foreign licenses for Saudi ones before the ban is lifted on June 24.

King Salman relaxed the Saudi prohibition on women drivers in a proclamation last year and the ban is set to lift fully on June 24. 

Yousef Doubisi/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia -- a noted haven for forward-thinking feminist views… wait no, that's not it… a country that requires women to get permission from men to do almost anything -- is finally about to lift its long-standing and highly controversial ban on women drivers. 

The ban doesn't officially lift until June 24, but 10 women have already exchanged their foreign driver's licenses for brand new Saudi ones, Al-Jazeera reports, and we're delighted for them.

Still, not everything is all sunshine and roses in the Kingdom. There are rumors that several activists, both Saudi and foreign, were arrested just last month for their work in pushing the new policy through. Among these activists is Loujain Alhathloul, a 28-year-old Saudi woman whose work to dismantle the system of male guardianship has landed her in jail on multiple occasions.

Currently, Saudi women are legally required to be driven by male family members, husbands or chauffeurs. This law stems from the broader concept of male guardianship, which requires women to seek the permission of a man -- typically a family member or husband -- to travel, go to school, receive nonemergency surgery or open a bank account. Until as recently as 2008 it included getting a job.

Loujain Alhathloul and the other detained activists have been released temporarily, according to a report on Sunday by CNN, and it is unclear at this time if the Saudi authorities will further pursue the charges, which include working against the Kingdom with foreign powers.