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Saudi Arabia allows women to travel independently

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Riyadh, Aug 2 (IANS) Saudi Arabian women will no longer require a permission from a "male guardian" to travel or obtain a passport, according to a royal decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The decree, issued three days ago, clearly stresses the right of every Saudi citizen to obtain a passport, and limits the need for a guardian’s approval to minors only, Arab News reported late Thursday.

The decree is written in a gender-neutral manner, and does not state any restrictions specific to women.

Until now, Saudi women have had to seek permission from a male guardian – a husband, father or other male relative to obtain a passport or travel abroad.

Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s authorities have addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US, on Friday morning said she was "elated" to confirm the new changes to the country’s labour and civil law.

In a series of tweets, she said the amendments were "designed to elevate the status of Saudi women within our society, including granting them the right to apply for passports and travel independently", Arab News reported.

"These new regulations are history in the making. They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women.

"Women have always played an integral role in our country’s development, and they will continue to do so moving forward on equal footing with their male counterparts," she tweeted.

A number of international media outlets reported earlier this year that the decision to remove all restrictions on women travelling was being discussed at the highest levels of government and was due to be implemented before the end of this year.

Saudi Arabia’s ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has eased restrictions in the country such as a ban on women driving as part of a big push to open up the country, the BBC reported.

In 2016, he unveiled a plan to transform the economy by 2030, with the aim of increasing women’s participation in the workforce to 30 per cent from 22 per cent.

 

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