(Saudi Gazette)- JEDDAH — In a historic decision, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Tuesday issued orders to grant driving licenses to women in the Kingdom.
The royal order will come into force from Shawwal 10, 1439, corresponding to June 24, 2018, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
In a royal decree, the monarch directed Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif to constitute a high-level ministerial committee to carry out studies about the necessary arrangements to implement the royal decree.
The ministerial body will give advice within 30 days and then implement the order by June 2018.
The committee will comprise representatives of the ministries of interior, finance, and labor and social development.
“The royal decree will implement the provisions of the traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike,” SPA reported.
The King also instructed implementation of the royal decree effective from Shawwal 10, 1439 in line with the Shariah and legal regulations.
In the decree, the King referred to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive, and the positive aspects of allowing them to do so, taking into consideration the application of the necessary Shariah regulations.
“We also refer to the view of the majority of the members of the Council of Senior Scholars with regard to this,” the King said.
Referring to the reservations expressed from some corners with regard to allowing women to drive, the King noted that scholars find that there is nothing that prevents women from driving after the necessary Shariah and legal guarantees are ensured.
The King emphasized that the State is the guardian of Shariah values.
“There won’t be any leniency in taking all the required measures to maintain the security and safety of society,” the monarch said while instructing the minister of interior to implement the rules of the Traffic Law and its executive bylaw, including allowing men and women alike to drive.
The reasons for delaying the enforcement of the decree until the month of Shawwal is due to the desire of the State to provide proper requirement and infrastructure so that women can drive in safety and security.
The United States welcomed the Royal order.
“We would certainly welcome that,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. “It's a great step in the right direction for that country.”