Saudi women will be allowed to drive lorries and motorbikes, road department says

Saudi women will be allowed to drive lorries and motorbikes, road department says
Saudi women will be able to take to the roads on motorbikes and lorries once next year's driving ban is lifted, the General Department of Traffic has said.
2 min read
16 Dec, 2017
Saudi women will be able to drive lorries next year [AFP]

Saudi women will be able to drive trucks, vans and motorcycles once gender-based road restrictions are lifted next year, state media said on Saturday.

Women will face no restrictions on what vehicles they can use once the ban on women drivers is lifted next year, the Saudi General Department of Traffic confirmed this weekend.

The country's road authority said there would "no discrimination" against women drivers and denied reports their vehicles would have different number plates to men.

"Saudi women will also be allowed to drive motorcycles as per the royal decree announced in September, which comes into effect in June 2018," the announcement said.

Saudi Arabia announced in September that a long-standing prohibition on women from taking to the road would end next year, the last country to have such a ban in place.

Car dealers in the kingdom were quick to welcome the move and issued special advertisements celebrating the new law.

They are expected to make huge profits from the announcement which Riyadh hopes will kick start the country's economy.

Saudi Arabia has announced a number of reforms in 2017, including an end to the ban on cinemas and plans for touristic projects across the country.

These fall into line with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030, a long-term economic plan for the country that Riyadh hopes will diversify its economy and halt the outflux of money from the country.

American Actor John Travolta was in Riyadh on Friday, to meet fans and talk about his Hollywood career.

In 2013, Saudi media reported that women would be allowed to ride bicycles and motorbikes but for recreation purposes only, not transport.

Saudi Arabia retains some of the world's most discriminatory laws against women, with restrictions on what they can wear and on traveling outside the country without the permission of male guardians.

Saudi Arabia's lorry drivers are nearly all foreign, but as the country pushes for the nationalisation of its expat-heavy workforce, there are ideas that nationals will take up lower paid jobs too.

Riyadh is looking to boost the logistics industry in the kingdom through its Vision 2030 plans, although it is doubtful that there will be women lorry drivers in the kingdom any time soon.