June 22, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7535

Saudi Traffic Department: Women Will Also Be Permitted To Ride Motorcycles, Drive Trucks

June 22, 2018
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 7535

In advance of the June 24, 2018 implementation of Saudi King Salman bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz's historic decree permitting women in the kingdom to drive, the Saudi Al-Watan daily published, on June 18, an infographic by the Saudi Department of Transportation featuring answers to questions on aspects of the new law.[1]

According to the infographic, women will be treated the same as men under the law: They will be able to drive trucks and ride motorcycles; vehicles they own will have the same type of license plate; and there will be no special restrictions for the photos on their licenses.  

Nevertheless, it should be noted that during the rollout of this reform, Saudi women have been critical of the inequality in the edict's implementation. For example, Dr. Hotoon Al-Fassi, an academic focusing on women's rights, argued that women who wanted to get a driver's license had to take more driving lessons than men, at a higher cost.[2]

The following is the translation of the questions and answers on the law on women driving as featured in the  Al-Watan infographic:

"Q: How will women with a license issued by a Gulf state be dealt with?

"A: Section 42/6 states that valid drivers' licenses issued by a GCC state's transportation department will be exchanged for similar Saudi licenses.

"Q: What will the Traffic [Department] do about women with driver's licenses from other countries?

"A: Section 37 of the Traffic Law states that anyone with a foreign or international driver's license recognized by the relevant Saudi authorities [i.e. the Traffc Department] is exempt from having to take a driving test, provided that their license is valid. Women with a recognized foreign [or] international license who are visiting the kingdom can drive for a period of one year from the date they entered the kingdom, or until the [license] expires, whichever comes first, in accordance with Section 42.

"Q: What vehicles will women be allowed to drive?

"A: Women will be allowed to drive any [vehicle] that men are permitted to drive, without discrimination – cars, trucks, and motorcycles – in accordance with the conditions set out in the traffic regulations.

"Q: From what age can women drive?

"A: At age 18 for a private vehicle, and at age 20 for a public conveyance or work vehicle.

"Q: Are there any additional restrictions on women with regard to [obtaining] a driver's license?

"A: There are no additional restrictions on women except for those that apply [also] to men.

"Q: Where can women [take driving lessons] in order to get a driver's license?

"A: At this time, driving schools staffed entirely by women are being set up. A driver's license is issued to women who pass the [driving] test.

"Q: Will women be permitted to drive outside cities?

"A: Yes, women will be permitted to drive outside cities on the freeways.

"Q: Will women be permitted to drive trucks?

"A: Yes, women will be permitted to drive trucks, after they have met the conditions for doing so under the law that [currently] apply to men. 

"Q: Will the [license] plates for cars [owned by] women and those [owned by] men be different, and will the [license plate] number be different?

"A: There is no difference between women's cars [vs men's] on the [license] plates or on the number. [Women] are subject to the law regarding [license] plates, which is in Section 7 of the Traffic Law. 

"Q: Will women be permitted to ride motorcycles?

"A: Yes. Women will be permitted to ride motorcycles. The [King's] edict states that the law and its provisions will apply equally to men and women.

"Q: What restrictions will apply to the photo appearing on a [woman's] driver's license?

"A: The same as those applying to men's...

"Q: How will a woman who has committed an offense requiring imprisonment be dealt with?

"A: The Women Care Centers for young women will serve as prisons for [a woman who commits] a moving violation or [causes] a traffic accident, in coordination with the Interior, Labor, and Social Development ministries."[3]

The infographic with questions and answers about the law on women driving, in Al-Watan, June 18, 2018.


[1] The questions were chosen from 45 questions answered by senior transportation official Zayd Al-Tuwayan and Traffic Department director Muhammad Al-Bassami. See, December 15, 2017.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 18, 2018.

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