>> So the first thing I want to do first time behind the wheel in Saudi is to take my family for a ride so we can celebrate this moment.>> Marie Al-Faraj works as a mechanical engineer for the world's biggest oil producer but one thing she has never been able to do, drive herself to work in Saudi Arabia.
This Sunday that changes, Al-Faraj will become one of the first women to get behind the wheel as a ban on female drivers is officially lifted.>> I'm planning to go soon to a dealership to do my research and pick the right car for me.>> Her employer, Saudi Aramco, is offering to teach its female workforce to drive.
Women make up around 5% of its staff, meaning 3,000 women could learn to drive here alone. Lifting the ban has been held as proof of a new progressive trend in the deeply conservative kingdom, spearheaded by the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman but progress is uneven. Last month, international rights groups condemned the arrest of several prominent Saudi activists, including women campaigning for the right to drive.
Authorities said they were guilty of, quote, an encroachment on religious and national constants.