x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Saudi government may drop plans for gender barrier in Shura Council

The announcement comes a day after 30 women took part in a swearing-in ceremony in the chamber.

RIYADH // Saudi officials may consider dropping plans for a barrier separating men and the newly appointed women in the country's top advisory body.

News reports follow the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday for the first women in the ultraconservative kingdom's Shura Council. There was no barrier during the event as the 30 women sat on one side of the chamber and the 130 men on the other.

Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic laws sharply restrict mixing between genders.

The pro-government Al Watan newspaper reported today that the original proposal for a barrier in the Shura chamber now could be reconsidered.

In 2011, King Abdullah said women can vote and run as candidates in the next municipal elections in 2015. The kingdom's women are still banned from driving and face many other restrictions.