Saudi Arabia permits women to drive, enter stadiums; access to essentials still limited

The Saudi King has issued decrees legalizing driving of cars by Saudi women, and permitting them to enter sports stadiums. The former decree orders the creation of a ministerial body for the purposes of implementation, and stipulates the necessity of applying these changes in a manner compliant with Sharia standards. The latter decree will open three previously male-only venues at Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam to families.These amendments come as part of several initiatives of the kingdom to increase access to public spaces for women through modernizing reforms, though not without opposition from influential clerics. The decision is in line with the Crown Prince’s ambitious vision of bringing in significant reforms to the country. Although the kingdom appears to be relaxing some norms as part of its sweeping “Vision 2030” plan for bringing in significant economic and social reforms, the guardianship system for adult women remains in place, limiting their unfettered access to obtaining travel documents, accessing healthcare, etc.