Al Hamad Laps Track In Saudi Arabia As Female Driving Ban Lifts

A woman practices infront of a screen during driving lessons

A woman practices infront of a screen during driving lessons

The decision to lift the ban in the tightly controlled kingdom - where once-forbidden cinemas and concerts have also returned - is expected to boost the economy, with industries from vehicle sales to insurance set to reap returns.

The government recently began allowing women to sell cars as well.

Unrelated men and women are increasingly allowed to enter family sections of restaurants together. Women only parking spaces have been set up across Saudi Arabia and they will be painted pink in addition to signs reading "ladies parking only" to indicate spaces meant for female drivers. Since then, dozens more have been licensed.

The decision to lift the ban was catalyzed in large measure by what experts characterize as economic pain in the kingdom owing to a protracted oil slump.

A row over broadcasting of the World Cup in Saudi Arabia has escalated, with Riyadh denying an allegation by European soccer's governing body that a television channel it says is illegally showing matches is based in the kingdom.

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Granting women the right to drive is part of a wider blueprint for the future drawn up by the crown prince. And the classes can be costly, running several hundred dollars.

Though Mr Gasnier doesn't expect women to rush out and buy a auto straight away.

"We were princesses. We were in a good place".

In an exclusive Al Arabiya English video, Dr. ‏Taghreed Alohali - who works in healthcare - said that driving was an "actual necessity", to take her child to school and travel between workplaces and home. In perception and how they view women, their capabilities - as equal partners.

"I will get my driver's license, but I won't drive because I have a driver". I'm proud of my country for lifting the ban and for showing us that it's our time now. She's eager to learn how to drive so she can test-drive the Ford Explorer and Edge she's been selling to customers, but her husband is telling her to wait.

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"I can say that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, came at the right time". "What's making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers".

"On the first day behind the wheel in #Saudi, I took my kids for a ride in #Jeddah and winked at my 13-year old son: "I got to do that before you", wrote Deema Farsi".

Now she can driver herself to work - or anywhere she wants to go. "Yesterday we sat there", she added, pointing to the back.

Hala Kudwah, Middle East consulting partner and financial services leader at PwC in Saudi Arabia, says it will "alter spending patterns in the kingdom through increased family income and savings in transportation".

In 1990, during the first driving campaign by activists, women who drove in Riyadh lost their jobs and were barred from traveling overseas, even as women in other conservative Muslim countries drove freely.

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"In the beginning years, like to two and three, I'm a little scared about the people". Saudi stocks.TASI rose almost two percent on Sunday and insurance firms made solid gains, as demand from women is expected to boost the automotive sector.

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