RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday start issuing its first driving licenses to women in decades, authorities said.
Ten Saudi women swapped their foreign licences for Saudi ones in multiple cities, including the capital Riyadh, as the kingdom prepares to end its ban on June 24.
The move, which follows a government crackdown on women activists, is part of a much-publicised liberalisation drive launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as he seeks to modernise the state.
“Ten Saudi women made history on Monday when they were issued driving licences,” said the information ministry’s Centre for International Communication (CIC).
“Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licensed drivers in the kingdom.”
The official Saudi Press Agency said the swap came after women applicants were made to undergo a “practical test”, but it did not offer details.
“It’s a dream come true that I am about to drive in the kingdom,” Rema Jawdat, one of the women to receive a licence, was quoted as saying by the CIC.