Saudi women hit the road as kingdom lifts ban on female drivers


Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, which is the authorised distributor for Toyota cars in Saudi Arabia, said it had deployed nearly 100 female front-line staff in their showrooms to advise women who are looking for a new motor.

"Saudi Arabia has just entered the 21st century", he said to his granddaughters in the back seat in the video. "Part of the training was during the holy month of Ramadan, but this did not stop me or my daughter from taking the full 30-hour training".

This is as sweeping social reforms pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at ending dependency on oil exports force the Gulf nation to start doing away with some of its traditional norms.

It's a euphoric and historic moment for women who have had to rely on their husbands, fathers, brothers and drivers to run basic errands, go to work and move around.

Earlier this month, the Kingdom began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades, with a handful of women swapping their foreign licences for Saudi ones after undergoing a practical test.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women were banned from driving.

The billionaire prince, who is one of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's nephews, set up a foundation which is described on its website as being dedicated to supporting women's empowerment among other things.

She's the first female board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, and serves as the Saudi Arabian representative at Women in Motorsport Commission for FIA.

The auto took 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, now at Ferrari, to victory in Abu Dhabi in November 2012.

"It feels weird; I am so happy".

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"Having loved cars since I was a child, today is highly emotional for me".

"I never even imagined it in my dreams".

"In the beginning years, like to two and three, I'm a little scared about the people. Now we're going to be in a better place", said Maram Al-Hazer, a manager at several auto showrooms, including Ford, who has two family drivers.

(Credit: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters) A Saudi woman gets her vehicle refuelled while on her way to work in Dammam.

Al-Hamad is a keen driver and motorsports enthusiast.

"For sure, definitely. And this is going to be my mission in Saudi".

"The attractive thing is that motorsport is not a sport that is divided". Prince Mohammed declared in an interview earlier this year that he believes men and women are equal.

The European soccer body alleges beoutQ is illegally using content from Qatari-based beIN Sports network, which holds regional rights but is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott of Qatar by Riyadh and Arab allies over Doha's alleged support of terrorism, which the Qataris deny.

"As of 12 a.m., the implementation of the Supreme Court order to enable women to drive and the implementation of traffic regulations to both men and women is officially in effect", said Col. Sami Al-Shwairkh, the official spokesman for General Security in the Kingdom.