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Saudi Arabia Women Driving

Saudi Arabia announced it will allow women to drive beginning next year

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree Tuesday, granting women the right to drive for the first time.

The ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on women driving has garnered widespread criticism from women's rights activists over the years. Under the ban, women have been arrested and even jailed for getting behind the wheel.

The New York Times reports that the king's 32-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sees the new policy as a way to improve the kingdom's economy and society.

In his Vision 2030 plan, bin Salman notes that the government hopes to have more women joining the workforce.

"With over 50 percent of our university graduates being female, we will continue to develop their talents, invest in their productive capabilities and enable them to strengthen their future and contribute to the development of our society and economy," the plan notes.

The decision comes just days after women were allowed to enter the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time, according to The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia
In this Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi men and women attend the national day ceremonies at the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is celebrating its National Day with an array of family-friendly festivities, including allowing women to enter the main stadium in the capital, Riyadh, for the first time, to see a performance recounting the country's founding 87 years ago. The King Fahd stadium has previously been reserved for male-only crowds to watch soccer matches. (Saudi Press Agency via AP) (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
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The new order will not got into effect until June of next year, but a committee will be formed to determine how to implement it.

The Associated press contributed to this report.

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