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>> Saudi women will finally be allowed to drive. That message coming Tuesday via state media which said Saudi King Solomon issued the decree reversing the long standing policy. The ban on women driving has been a symbol of oppression of women in the conservative Islamic kingdom. The US State Department immediately commented that it was, quote, a great step in the right direction.
Saudi Arabia has been widely criticized for being the only country in the world that bans women from driving despite ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the work force. So some observers are calling this step a huge PR win for Saudi Arabia's, says Reuters correspondent Stephen Kalin in Riyadh.
>> There have been protests and requests and petitions to the king to take this step. But that's been going on for year. With the rise Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, there's been a lot of speculation that this might be in the works because he's young, he understands what a lot of young, savvy people want.
And he's been pushing a lot of reforms. Reforms that, even a few years ago, seemed unthinkable.>> Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a head scarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions. But Prince Khaled, the Saudi ambassador to the US, said women would not need permission from their guardians to get a license or have a guardian in the car, and would be allowed to drive anywhere in the kingdom including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Over the weekend as it celebrated the 87th anniversary of the founding of its nation, with a big program of concerts and performances, Saudi Arabia also allowed women to enter the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time. The change in driving laws will go into effect in June next year.