Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive

A man looks at the Houthi-controlled headquarters of the Yemeni army destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa Yemen

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Saudi women's rights activists have been pushing for the right to drive for decades, saying it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law.

Saudi Arabia's central bank revealed new mortgage measures aimed at galvanising the housing market as the kingdom embarks on boosting affordable homes for its citizens.

The U.S. national works for the Yemeni oil company Safer and was detained after taking his children to school, two of his colleagues said, adding that he was married to a Yemeni woman and had lived in Yemen for many years. "Ever since Mohammed bin Salman's rise, he has fast-tracked all the changes that are needed for our country", said Marwa Afandi, a 35-year-old event planner in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

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A woman drives a auto in Saudi Arabia October 22, 2013.

The position of Saudi women gradually improved under late King Abdullah and since King Salman took over in 2015, the kingdom has been opening more areas for women through the government's modernizing reforms. Photo by Yousur Al-Hlou for The New York Times.

Saudi Arabia's king issued a decree on Tuesday allowing women to drive, which would end a longstanding ban on female motorists in the ultra-conservative country. But some working Saudi women say hiring private drivers to get them to and from work eats up much of their pay, diminishing the incentive to work.

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Many Saudi women rely on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem to take relish some freedom of movement.

A ministerial committee has been formed to prepare for the order's implementation. For example, the police will have to be trained to interact with women in a way that they rarely do in Saudi Arabia, a society where men and women who are not related have little contact.

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