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Saudi Shura denies move to lift ban on women drivers

RIYADH, November 9, 2014

Saudi Arabia's Shura Council has clarified that it had not made any recommendation to the government to lift the ban on female drivers in the kingdom.

The council was responding to a report from Associated Press (AP), carried by international media outlets, saying the king’s advisory council had recommended to the government that the ban be lifted.

Saudi media quoted Mohammed Abdullah Al-Muhanna, the head of the Shura council, as calling the report "misinformed" and clearly showing a "lack of authenticity", said a report on Aljazeera website.

The AP reported that the council, whose recommendations are not obligatory on the government, had reportedly endorsed that women over the age of 30 be allowed to drive with many restrictions.

AP said a council member, who had spoken on the condition of anonymity, had said that the recommendations were made in a secret, closed session held in the past month.

The report said women would need permission from a male relative, usually a husband or father, to be allowed to drive. They would be allowed to drive from 7 am to 8 pm from Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 pm on the weekend (Thursday and Friday).

The conditions also require that the woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said.

Within cities, they could drive without a male relative in the car, but outside the cities, a male relative's presence would be required.

The council had also reportedly said that a "female traffic department" would have to be created to deal with female drivers if their cars broke down or other problems and to issue fines.

The 150-member Shura Council is appointed by the king, drawing on various sectors of society. King Abdullah has appointed women to it for the first time, and there are now 30 female members.

Tags: Saudi | Shura Council | Women | Drivers |

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