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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Road to reform: How Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women drivers

Some six million women - or 65 per cent of the female driving-age population - are expected to apply for a licence once the ban is lifted on Sunday

Female motorists will get behind the wheel for the first time in decades in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Here is a timeline of how the reform happened:

September 2017: King Salman issues a decree declaring an end to the decades-long ban from June 24 2018.

October: Princess Nourah University in Saudi Arabia says it will open a driving school for women. It has more than 60,000 female students in Riyadh and other cities. Dubai's Careem holds recruitment session for women drivers in Saudi Arabia.

January 2018: Le Mall in Jeddah opens the kingdom's first car showroom aimed at women.

March: Princess Reema bint Bandar says "women driving is not the end all, be all of women's rights" in the kingdom. "These are things that are quick wins. We know we can do them - women in stadiums, women driving - that's great," the Vice-President for Development and Planning at Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority tells the Atlantic Council in Washington.

June: Driving licenses begin to be issued to women ahead of the lifting of the ban.

How many women will drive?

Some six million women - or 65 per cent of the female driving-age population - are expected to apply for a licence once the ban is lifted, according to the London-based consulting firm Facts Global Energy.

But such a high number may not be immediately attainable, some analysts say, according to AFP.

Some three million women in Saudi Arabia could receive licences and actively begin driving by 2020, according to consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Women with licences from Gulf countries will be required to convert them to Saudi licences, according to the kingdom's traffic department.

Those with international driving licences would be able to drive in the kingdom for up to a year, after which they would be required to apply for a Saudi licence, the department said.

What else can women now drive?

In addition to cars, women will be allowed to drive motorbikes, vans and trucks. Licences to drive private vehicles will be granted at the age of 18, and public transport at 20 - the same as men.

What could all this mean for the country's development?

The move is expected to boost women's employment, and according to a Bloomberg estimate, add $90 billion to economic output by 2030.

Read more:

Lifting of Saudi driving ban will be felt across GCC borders

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's dynamic year of reform

Vogue puts Saudi princess in the driver's seat

First Saudi women given driving licences ahead of law change

Exclusive: Friends to hit the road together as first western women to get their Saudi driving licences

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