Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued on Tuesday a Supreme Order that allows Saudi women to drive cars in the Kingdom.
The decree said that women would not be allowed to drive immediately as the new order is scheduled to take effect in June 23, 2018.
The Supreme Order, addressed by the King to the Interior Minister, said a high-level committee of the internal affairs, finance, labor and social development ministries should be formed to study the necessary arrangements for enforcing the decision and should issue their recommendations in a one month period.
Saudi sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that the delay in implementing the decision “is linked to the need of providing all the suitable elements and the needed infrastructure for women to safely drive their cars.”
The sources added that the royal decree received on Tuesday the approval of the majority of the members of the senior scholars council, who considered the legitimacy of this issue to be “in terms of origin,” and agreed that the decision does not contradict with the principles of the Islamic Sharia adopted by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Khaled bin Salman 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, according to Reuters.
The ambassador said that women with a license from any of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
According to the King’s Order, the decision will be effective in accordance with the approved Sharia and regulations and completion of what is required by it.
The decision received a wide support inside and outside Saudi Arabia.
On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State praised the King’s decision and described it as “a great step in the right direction.”
In his decision, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also referred to the negative consequences of not allowing women to drive vehicles and the positive aspects of allowing them to do so, taking into consideration the application of the necessary legal controls and adherence to them.
“The state - with the help of God- is guardian of the values and of legitimacy, it is the preservation and care in the list of priorities, whether in this matter or another, will not hesitate to take all that would maintain the security and safety of society,” King Salman said in the Order.
He added: “We adopt the application of the provisions of the Traffic Law and its Executive Regulations - including the issuance of driving licenses - to both males and females.”