Saudi Arabia Appoints its First Female Spokesperson at US Embassy

Saudi Arabia Appoints its First Female Spokesperson at US Embassy

Saudi Arabia Appoints its First Female Spokesperson at US Embassy

The ban on driving has hardly been the most onerous of restrictions on the public life of women under the ultraconservative Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam enforced in Saudi Arabia.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has made it clear that he wants to reduce the number of expatriates - numbering about 11.7 million today - working and living Saudi Arabia.

Positive reactions quickly poured in from inside the kingdom and around the world.

The delay is due, according to The New York Times, to various bureaucratic gaps that would make it hard for women to obtain licenses or learn how to drive.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving.

Women who need to get around already have cars driven by chauffeurs. Females are also subject to strict dress codes and gender segregation.

Lifting Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers will cut the number of auto crashes, Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef has said.

Saudi Arabia spends more than 25 billion riyals ($6.7 billion) on annual salaries of its 1.38 million foreign drivers, on top of additional expenses for their entry and residence permits, housing and healthcare.

Here are twelve things that women still can't do, but men can, in the country.

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One Saudi woman tweeted a picture of three women in a convertible going shopping, with the message: "Us soon".

He did not present any evidence to back up his claim, saying only that "women driving cars will transform traffic safety to educational practice". Sharif, who now lives in Australia, was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in 2011 after sharing a video on YouTube featuring her driving.

A majority of Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Ulema religious scholars on Wednesday expressed support for a royal decree allowing women to drive.

"The closing day of issuance coincided with allowing women to drive, a move that was welcomed by investors as it signals the seriousness of the Saudi leadership toward the goals of 2030 vision".

In fact, Aziza Youssef, one of Saudi Arabia's most vocal women's rights activists, hailed the decision as a "great first step". According to the International Labour Organization only 20 percent of the adult Saudi women were employed in the Kingdom, lagging far behind their GCC counterparts with 40 percent of Gulf women in the workforce.

"Low oil prices have limited the government jobs that many Saudis have long relied on, and the kingdom is trying to push more citizens into gainful employment, including women".

The ruling will see a consultation over the next 30 days on how to implement the new rules granting women the right to apply for driving licenses and it will be brought into force in June 2018.

While some took to Twitter and other social media to hail the move as a victory for womens rights in a kingdom governed by a strict interpretation of Sharia law, others seemed less than impressed.

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