First Saudi women receive driving licenses

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Saudi Arabia on Monday issued the first driving licences to women, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

According to Fast Company, the 10 women approved to undertake the requisite driving test and eye exams already had licenses in other countries-such as Canada, the U.K., and the United States.

Global news reporters were not present to witness the swap in the only country in the world which prevents women from getting behind the wheel.

Saudi women will be allowed to start driving in the kingdom from June 24.

The Ministry of Information said this week that thousands of driving licenses are expected to be issued to women before the ban officially lifts. Amnesty said women who advocated for women's rights, including Loujain Hathloul, Aziza Alyousef and Eman al-Nafjan, were among those arrested. This historic moment comes a few weeks before the country grants all women the right to drive on June 24, and in the wake of effusive protests against the male-centric government and society that has stripped women of various human rights.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia follows a strict form of Wahhabi Islam that places many restrictions on women and bans the mixing of sexes at public events. Rights groups have condemned the kingdom's apparently paradoxical actions. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

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Ultraconservatives viewed women driving as immoral and warned women would be subject to sexual harassment if they drove.

Women pose for a photo after attending a driving training at a university in Jeddah.

Rema Jawdat, a risk analyst, also said in the statement, "Driving, to me, represents having a choice; the choice of independent movement, now we have that option and that's important".

The woman was among nine others who were the first group of women allowed to obtain their licenses.

The prince has also attempted to appeal to young Saudis by opening the country to more entertainment, allowing music concerts and bringing the first commercial movie theatre to Saudi Arabia this year.

Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told NBC News that, "If, as it appears, their detention is related exclusively to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women's issues, they should be released immediately".

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