Inside Story

Is Saudi Arabia on a reform path?

Women in Saudi Arabia are finally being allowed to drive from next year following a decree issued by King Salman.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from getting behind the wheel of a car, but not for much longer – nine months to be exact.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is allowing women to legally drive for the first time from next June.

The royal decree removes a cornerstone of Saudi conservatism.

Some conservative voices are accusing the leadership of “bending the verses of Sharia”, while human rights activists are delighted that Saudi women are finally being allowed to do something that is entirely normal everywhere else.

But will the royal go-ahead accelerate existing tensions in the kingdom? And is it a major step towards gender equality in the male-dominated society?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Eylem Atakav – Senior lecturer, University of East Anglia 

Yasemin Saib – Saudi activist 

Rothna Begum – Women’s rights researcher, Human Rights Watch