Saudi Arabia has legally allowed the first wave of women to begin driving this past Sunday. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman issued a decree in September of 2017 allowing women to apply for a driver’s license.
Thousands of women have already registered for a license, with that number expected to grow into 2020. The Mecca province is projected to have the highest number of female drivers within the next two years, numbering just shy of a million female drivers.
Women pose a new market for car sales. By 2025, car sales are projected to grow by about 9 percent in Saudi Arabia. The addition of Saudi women into the car market promises to be a profitable change, fueled by the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 goals that aim to diversify the economy, lessening Saudi Arabia’s economic dependence on oil.
The social and economic success of this reform will be contingent on tempering conservative backlash to this major modernizing effort. A month before the driving ban was lifted, many women’s rights activists—including those campaigning for women’s right to drive—were arrested.
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