Saudi Arabia to let women drive

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that it will issue driver’s licenses to women for the first time, after it had previously been unlawful for them to get behind the wheel.

The announcement follows years of criticism of the conservative kingdom by human rights groups, who have campaigned for an end to Saudi Arabia’s longstanding ban on women driving. The Muslim nation is ruled by a monarchy and follows strict Sharia law.

The move will apparently not come immediately, as a committee consisting of representatives of several ministries will study how to implement the change, according to Saudi Arabia’s state news agency.

The ban has long damaged Saudi Arabia’s image abroad, where it had become a symbol of the kingdom’s restrictions on women.

The shift comes several months after the Saudi king named a new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The 32-year-old heir to the throne has pushed a program of reform in the country.

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