Saudi women officially begin driving

For the first time, Saudi Arabian women can now get behind the wheel of a car to drive themselves. The ban on women driving lifted this past Sunday.

CNBC reported on the historic moment for women in the country, which is part of a grander plan to transform the ultra-conservative kingdom by 2030. Titled “Vision 2030,” Saudi Arabia hopes to shift its economy away from oil production, and part of the process includes giving women the ability to drive. The government hopes it will help increase the number of two-income families in households.

The country’s leader, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced the ban’s lift last September, but it hasn’t given women outright freedom to simply start driving. To apply for a driving permit, a woman must first receive a male guardian’s permission. The same rule goes for many aspects of women’s’ lives in the kingdom; a woman must have a man’s permission to travel out of the country, apply for a job, marry, divorce, and access healthcare.

The move could also boost the country’s lagging car market as more women purchase cars. With women now gaining access to the privilege, 9 million additional consumers could soon need a car. However, wealthy Saudi families typically already own two cars—one for the man, and another for a chauffeur to drive his wife and family when needed. Many chauffeurs may, ultimately, be out of a job.

Already, the changes have been swift for the ride-sharing labor market. CNBC reported that 2,000 women have applied to become drivers for Careem, a regional ride-sharing service.

To celebrate the day, Saudi woman racer Aseel Al Hamad took a lap in a Jaguar XF in her home country. Al Hamad had driven on tracks all over the world, but never in her home country.

Al Hamad joined Jaguar in a call for June 24 to be known as World Driving Day in recognition of the whole world finally having the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of driving. Jaguar invited people to share their memories of their best driving moments with stories or images at the hashtag #worlddrivingday.

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