In January the shopping centre Le Mall in Jeddah hosted a pop-up showroom exclusively made for female motorists. (IMAGE: Reem Baeshen / Reuters)
As the clock ticked past midnight, the women of Saudi Arabia finally fired up their engines. Today, on June 24 2018, the longstanding policy which banned women in Saudi Arabia from driving has officially been lifted.
Women had to rely on their husbands, fathers and brothers even to do as basic things as running errands and get to work. The ban became a global symbol of the oppression of women in the conservative kingdom.
The fight for women’s right to drive have been a long-running struggle. For nearly three decades, Saudi women have been fighting to get behind the wheel. The outspoken women, and the men who supported their cause, did risk a lot.
The first driving campaign by activists was back in 1990. A major protest saw about 40 women getting in the driver’s seat, roaming the country's capital Riyadh. As a result they lost their jobs and passport. Several cases like this occurred later on.
A film of the women’s rights activist and writer Wajeha al-Huwaider driving was published on International Women's Day in 2008. It attracted massive international media attention, but the campaigns that gained an immense amount of support were still ignored.
Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world that did not allow female drivers, and it wasn’t until September 2017 that Saudi King Salman announced that women would be allowed to drive. Now, it is finally happening.