|01 August, 2019

Saudi Arabia ends restrictions on women traveling: Royal Decree

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

Image used for illustrative purpose. Confident Arab woman dressed in abaya looking forward while holding a digital tablet.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Confident Arab woman dressed in abaya looking forward while holding a digital tablet.

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JEDDAH: Saudi women no longer require a permission from a “male guardian” to travel or obtain a passport, a decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz indicates. 

According to the document — seen and verified by Arab News — 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. 

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

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

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US said she was “elated” to confirm the new changes to the country’s labor and civil law. 

Princess Reema bint Bandar said the amendments are “designed to elevate the status of Saudi women within our society, including granting them the right to apply for passports and travel independently.”

These developments have been a long time coming. From the inclusion of women in the consultative council to issuing driving licenses to women, our leadership has proved its unequivocal commitment to gender equality. 

“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,” she added.

“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,” said the diplomat in a series of tweets early Friday. 

The issue was under discussion in the Shoura Council for quite some time. Dr. Eqbal Darandari, a member of the Shoura Council, had spoken about the necessity of revoking the requirement of a guardian’s permission for Saudi women to travel.

The Shoura Council member strongly felt this step was in the right direction as it tallied with the decree to allow women to drive. The two — in her opinion — were interminably connected.

“I am for justice, and there’s a lot of injustice against some women due to misconstrued traditions and practices, and limited religious outlooks, putting women in harm’s way as a result.”

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

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