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Over 120,000 Applications for Licenses Received from Saudi Women as Thousands More Register at Driving Schools

A new day has finally dawned on Saudi Arabia. As of June 24, a day that was marked by celebrations, infectious excitement, touching moments, and tears of joy, women across the country can now officially drive themselves. With the ban on female motorists now a thing of the past, thousands of women have already started registering for training at driving schools across the country.

Saudi Gazette reported earlier last week that in Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University Driving School in Dammam alone, 13,000 women have already applied for driving lessons. In addition to the thousands who are waiting to get their training, more than 120,000 women have already sent in applications for driving licenses to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said, “Our preparation for this historic day started after the issuance of the royal decree […] We took into consideration the general safety of the traffic across the country.”

Al-Turki explained that six specialized driving schools have been issued licenses to train women in five cities across the Kingdom, and four of these schools have already started operations. He also stressed that 22 centers in 22 cities and governorates have been readied to exchange foreign driving licenses for local ones for Saudi female citizens and residents.

He also discussed the measures being put in place to ensure the safety of all drivers, pointing to the use of technology on roads to ensure the ideal execution of all safety measures, the introduction of 40 trained Saudi women for traffic (field) checking, and the recent anti-harassment laws.

“Very strict harassment legislation was issued before the implementation of women driving; actually, this legislation was issued to stand against harassment in all its forms and in all places, including the ones that can happen on road, and protect everyone, not only women, in the society from this brutal action. […] We took a very important step and I can safely say that we succeeded in achieving all the objectives we had nine months ago to ensure safe driving for everyone. We equally trust both females and males in sticking to the regulations and safety measures.”

For Saudi women, the journey to becoming a regular sight on the roads of the Kingdom is still ongoing. Applicants, who should be at least 18 years of age, must go through a six-step process before obtaining their driving license. These include an initial registration, registering on the school’s website, registering for the training program, taking the 5-hour theoretical training, taking 20 hours of practical training, and finally taking the test run by the Traffic Department.

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