Images of the first women in Saudi Arabia to get their driver's licenses have just been released
While we're over here complaining about the pressure we feel to post the perfect travel selfies or the fact that grandma can't accept that we're strong independent women who don't need no man (so can she stop asking if there's a "lucky fella" every Christmas, thank you very much), it's important to look beyond our own doorsteps for some perspective from time to time.
For instance, over in Saudi Arabia right now, women are rejoicing over the fact that they will finally be allowed to drive cars. The historic move sees the end of a rule enforced only in the country of Saudi Arabia, with the ban being officially lifted from June 24 onwards.
However, a select few have already been given the privilege of getting their licenses early. A video went viral earlier this week showing the very first Saudi women to be issued a driver's license. “Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia,” the tweet read.
The woman is among 10 others who took their driving tests this week. According to Arab News, the women selected all already hold international driving permits, which have now been replaced with legally acknowledged Saudi licenses.
"The issuance of the licenses means that for the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in the Kingdom,” said a statement by the Ministry of Information. “Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licensed drivers in the kingdom.”
And now, official images have been released by the Saudi Information Ministry of the first ever Saudi Arabian women to hold her own driver's license. They were issued at the General Department of Traffic in the country's capital of Riyadh.
The first image if of Esraa Albuti, an executive director at international accounting firm Ernst & Young.
The second photo is of Tahani Aldosemani, an assistant professor at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University in Al-Kharj.
"I have 12 years of driving experience in Lebanon, Switzerland, and the United States. It’s a dream come true that I am about to drive in the Kingdom," said Rema Jawdat, another of the 10 women, according to the Information Ministry. "The moment I got the news about driving was unbelievable for me. Driving, to me, represents having a choice; the choice of independent movement. Now we have that option and that’s important."
However, people have been quick to point out that while it is a joyous occasion, 17 people in Saudi Arabia were detained only a few days ago for "undermining" security — most of them female activists who campaigned for the right to drive.
Vogue Arabia released its first Saudi issue, featuring HRH Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud on the cover. She is captured stepping majestically out from the driver's seat of a luxurious cabriolet, with the magazine hoping to capture the significance of this historic time.
"In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change," the princess is quoted as saying. "For many, it’s all they have known. Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm."
Women 18-years-old and up will be allowed to apply for a driver's license, and driving schools specifically tailored to women have been set up across five cities in Saudi Arabia. Teachers include female Saudi citizens who got their licenses abroad.