FILE PHOTO; Umm Ibrahim sits behind the wheel of her vehicle as she drives in Riyadh, an act that is banned in Saudi Arabia June 21, 2011. (REUTERS PHOTO)
RIYADH, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Tuesday issued a royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom, local media reported.
The order lifted a decades-old ban on Saudi women from driving, a right that has been reserved only to male citizens and residents so far.
Approved by the majority of religious scholars, the decree said that the benefits of allowing women to drive outweigh the negative affects, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The decree cited that the granting of licenses to women will be in accordance with the Islamic regulations and traffic regulations.
The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike, the report said.
The king also ordered the creation of a high-level committee by the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. It will be tasked with studying the arrangements to enforce the new law.
Due to the driving ban, Saudi families have been relying on hiring private drivers to help transport their female members to school, work and other places.
Latest figures showed that nearly 800,000 men, most from South Asia, are working solely in the kingdom as drivers to Saudi women, the Al Arabiya TV reported.
The decree was welcomed by Saudi women, who hailed it as a great victory.
"This is a great victory for many Saudi women. This was the one file and issue which Saudi women have fought for not just years, but decades for," Latifa Shaalan, a Saudi female member of Saudi Arabia's Shoura Council, told Al Arabiya.