Saudi starts issuing driving licences to women

Women with international licences can now exchange them for local ones



Saudi Arabia has started issuing driving licences to women who have international licences, ahead of the lifting of the female driving ban on June 24.

The Saudi General Traffic Directorate provided national licences to Saudi women holding driving licenses of other countries, “provided that they are internationally recognised,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

The exchange process is taking place in various spots around the kingdom.

Local daily Arab News reported that 10 women were issued licences after they took a brief driving test and eye exam at the General Directorate of Traffic in Riyadh.

The move will “lay the groundwork for women sitting behind the wheels on the roads, a turning point set to be actualised on June 24,” the SPA report added.

A video of the first woman to get her licence has been circulating widely on social media.

Another woman who received her licence also took to Twitter to thank King Salman for supporting women’s rights in the kingdom.

Late last year, it was reported that Saudi women have spent $3.1m on obtaining driving licences from the UAE, Bahrain and Jordan in the build-up to the lifting of the driving ban.

Arabic publication Al-Watan cited sources as confirming the figure, which is derived from an estimated fee of SAR1,540 ($411) for each of the 7,550 licences issued in the countries.

Read: Saudi women have spent $3.1m to obtain driving licences abroad

In April, it was also reported that Saudi women are set to pay up to six times more than men for driving lessons.

The head of the Saudi Society for Traffic Safety, Abdulhameed Al-Mejel, said the cost of lessons for women will range from SAR2,000-3,000 ($533-800) compared to SAR450 ($120) for men, Arabic publication Al-Watan reported.

Read more: Saudi women to pay six times more than men for driving lessons

PwC forecast in a report earlier this year that it expected just 20 per cent of women in Saudi to drive by 2020, despite previous surveys suggesting more than four fifths wanted to get behind the wheel.

Read: PwC says just a fifth of women in Saudi will drive by 2020