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Country Risk

Saudi Arabia ends ban on women driving following arrest of clerics, reflecting intent for broader reform

28 September 2017

Event

King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud issued a decree permitting women to obtain driving licences on 26 September 2017.

The decision does not come into effect until June 2018 after a committee review on how to enforce regulations. The decision followed a wave of arrests in September targeting, among others, clerics opposed to the government and belonging to the Sahwa, a broad Islamist movement combining elements of the Muslim Brotherhood’s and Salafism’s thinking to demand more representation, greater adherence to literalist interpretations of Islamic scriptures, and a reduction of the ruling Al Saud family’s power. According to the Saudi government, most members of the kingdom’s highest religious body, the Senior Scholar’s Association, approved of the decision.

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