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.
Manal al-Sharif was jailed, harassed, fired & exiled for demanding right of Saudi women to drive. Today I nominate her for the Nobel Prize. pic.twitter.com/03NTf2w1RZ
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.
Saudi Arabia announced it will allow women to drive beginning next year
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.
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.