Women inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will finally be issued driver’s licenses as the long-standing ban on female drivers ends Sunday at midnight, according to a report from the Associated Press.
“I’m speechless. I’m so excited it’s actually happening,” Hessah al-Ajaji told AP. Ajaji was one of the few women who got behind the wheel early Sunday morning.
The ban was lifted by King Salman at the urging of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who made the announcement in September of last year. For the past three months, women have been able to take special driver’s education classes to prepare for the licensing exam.
According to Reuters, this is one of several reforms instituted by Crown Prince Salman in recent years. His goals appear to be opening up Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world and modernizing the oil-based economy.
While lifting the ban is a positive step for women inside the Kingdom, they may still face criticism from more traditional family members and other hard-liners who view women as second-class citizens. However, the Salman family appears to be slowly liberalizing the country. In April, the 40-year-old ban on movie theaters was lifted.