Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s royal-appointed advisery council recommended to the government for the first time that the kingdom’s blanket ban on women driving be lifted, but with conditions: Only women over 30 will be allowed behind the wheel and only until 8pm each day, and no makeup allowed while driving, a council member said Friday.
The Shura Council’s recommendations are not obligatory on the government. But simply making the recommendation was a startling shift after years of the kingdom staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.
There have been small protests by women who took to their cars over the past year. The driving ban, which is unique in the world, is imposed because the kingdom’s clerics say “licentiousness” will spread if women drive.
The council member told The Associated Press that the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.
Under the recommendations, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive and they would need permission from a male guardian to do so. They would be allowed to drive from 7am to 8pm on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8pm on Thursday and Friday, the weekend in the kingdom.
The conditions also require that a woman driver wear decent dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male guardian in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present… see more