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Saudi women finally get to drive

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Saudi women finally get to drive

A Saudi woman at the wheel
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In Saudi Arabia, women are finally permitted to drive after a decades-old ban expired at midnight Saturday.

The conservative kingdom was the only country left in the world where women were prohibited from driving, a restriction that resulted in some families having to hire chauffeurs for female relatives.

"The difference now is that when I want to go out all I have to do is get in my car," explained Nouf Khamis, "I don't need to wait for the driver or my husband or my father to drop me off anymore. It's a lot easier for me now, I can just get in my car and go do whatever I need to do."

The decision to lift the ban was taken last September and Saudi Arabia began issuing the first licenses to women earlier this month. Thousands of women are expected to take the opportunity to change their lives.

"I am happy to see the women of my country driving, perhaps they may need to drive but have no brothers to help them," said Riyadh resident Abdullah al-Autawi. "This is a good thing and I hope that the people accept it and can appreciate women driving."

But although women can now drive, the change came along with an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right.