Saudi Arabia lifted a long-time and oft-criticized ban on female drivers Sunday night, inspiring immediate joy rides and victory laps by women across the nation, reported NPR.
“I have loved racing and motor sport from a very young age and to drive a Formula One car goes even beyond my dreams and what I thought was possible,” she told the Guardian. “I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and spirit to dream.”
The lifting of the ban, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of a series of progressive reforms initiated by heir apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a push to transform the economy of the Gulf kingdom.
"I'm speechless. I'm so excited it's actually happening," one driver, Hessah al-Ajaji, told the Associated Press, adding that male drivers on the road early Sunday morning "were really supportive and cheering and smiling."
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a vocal proponent of ending the ban over the last year, echoed those sentiments in a video posted to Twitter, stating, "Finally, First ride with my daughter @Reem_Alwaleed while she's driving me and my grand daughters in Riyadh."
Some saw lifting the ban not only as a win for women’s freedoms, but as a boon to local businesses.
"If you look at it from a social perspective, the women's driving ban being lifted, is a positive one. And also from a workforce perspective, women are being given more leadership roles," Layla Albraikan, a 25-year-old who lives in Riyadh, told NPR. "Hopefully I'll drive every day to work, and in a couple of months I'll buy my own car."
Today, the driving ban has been lifted in Saudi. Today, there is no stopping women to drive. Except those who fought for this right! Jailed and branded 'traitors' by Saudi Arabia. Tell King Salman to free Saudi activists now! pic.twitter.com/KVbICBb8f2— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) June 24, 2018
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