Saudi Arabia overturns ban on women driving

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(Riyadh) – Saudi Arabian women celebrated being able to drive for the first time in decades, as the kingdom overturned the world’s only ban on female motorists, a historic reform expected to usher in a new era of social mobility.

The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s wide-ranging drive to modernise the conservative petrostate — but it has coincided with a sweeping crackdown on female activists who long opposed the driving ban.

Women in Riyadh and other cities began zipping around streets bathed in amber light soon after the ban was lifted at midnight, with some blasting music from behind the wheel.

“I always knew this day would come. But it came fast. Sudden,” said talkshow host and writer Samar Almogren as she drove across the capital. “I feel free like a bird.”

Television presenter Sabika al-Dosari said the end of the ban was “a historic moment for every Saudi woman” before driving a sedan across the border to the kingdom of Bahrain.

The lifting of the ban, a glaring symbol of repression, is expected to be transformative for many women.