TEL AVIV — The king of Saudi Arabia issued a decree Tuesday allowing women to get driver’s licenses and drive vehicles, while also stating that the new freedom would be given in accordance within the restrictions of religious sharia law.
The royal decree was addressed to the Minister of the Interior, reading, “His Royal Highness, the Minister of the Interior, peace. We turn attention to the negative aspects arising from the lack of permission for women to drive, as well as to the positive aspects of granting permission, taking into account all the sharia restrictions and the need to uphold them.”
The decree continued, “We note that most of the members of the Council of Clerics confirmed that there is religious approval in all regards to giving permission to women to drive while addressing all the cracks and arguments against. The clerics see no impediment to allowing women to drive vehicles in the shadow of the necessary sharia and legal guarantees. In the view of the state, maintaining the values of sharia is the top priority and it will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to safeguard the public’s security and well-being.”
The decision is expected to come into effect in summer 2018. The royal decree caused great excitement on Gulf region social media and it was difficult to find responses that did not support the decision.
Saudi author Khalef al-Dakhil wrote, “The release of the decree allowing women to drive cancels out the view that the decision is supposed to belong to the public. The decision is that of the state institutions, which had to start acting according to it.”
صدور الأمر الملكي بالسماح للمرأة بقيادة السيارة يلغي فكرة شاعت بأن هذا الأمر كان يعود للمجتمع. الأمر تشريعي ولم يكن ممكنا إلا للدولة مزاولته
— خالد الدخيل (@kdriyadh) September 26, 2017
An Al Jazeera journalist wrote, “The permission given in Saudi Arabia for women to drive has turned into news on a world scale, but the Russian bombing of two hospitals in Syria has become a routine item.”
سماح #السعودية بقيادة السيارة للمرأة خبر عالمي .. قصف روسي لمشفيين في كفرنبل ودارة عزة .. خبر روتيني للبرابرة وسحرتهم الإعلاميين
— د ـ أحمد موفق زيدان (@Ahmadmuaffaq) September 27, 2017
Former Dubai police commander Dahi Khalfan wrote, “Driving by women is an issue of individual freedom. Those uninterested in driving – no one will force her to do it. Allowing women to drive is a smart decision that puts an end to a problematic issue.”
قيادة المرأة للمركبة حرية شخصية…من لا تريد ان تقود سيارة لن يرغمها أحد.. قرار السماح لها بالقيادة إن رغبت قرار حكيم انهى مشكلة
— ضاحي خلفان تميم (@Dhahi_Khalfan) September 26, 2017
Muhammad Tomaihi, an Al Arabiya journalist, wrote, “My partner in the homeland, our streets will be a stage to express the depth of appreciation you deserve and those who will be insolent to you will understand what masculinity is,” hinting that those who try to interfere with female drivers will encounter a hostile response from the male relatives of the women.
— محمد الطميحي (@MohammedTomaihi) September 26, 2017
A member of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia (parliament), Latife Shaalan wrote, “A great and glorious day. I can hardly hold in my tears. Congratulations to the women of the country. Thanks from here to the heavens to King Salman.”
يوم عظيم مجيد
مبروك لنساء الوطن
وشكرا بحجم السماء للملك سلمان 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/8URg6g8rwJ
— لطيفة الشعلان (@LatifahAshaalan) September 26, 2017
Saudi author Khalaf al-Harbi wrote, “On this historic day, we sincerely bless the women who fought from over 27 years ago for their right to drive and as a result were forced to endure ugly, cruel and extremist campaigns.”