Saudis to Let Women Behind the Wheel

Driving ban lifted to pre-empt growing protest movement
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2008 6:49 AM CST
A woman gets in a taxi in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo dated Monday, Sept. 17, 2007. The government is set to announce driving rights for women by the end of 2008. (AP Photo/Omar al-Abdullah)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court has decided to allow women to drive. The move is calculated to stem growing activism, including protest convoys of women drivers, reports the Daily Telegraph. "If girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up," said a government official.

The shift, which will be formalized in a decree before the end of the year, is reportedly part of King Abdullah’s strategy of incremental reform. "When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad," said one member of government. "Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent." The kingdom also issued a decree yesterday permitting women to check into a hotel alone, Reuters reports.