(NEW YORK) — Women in Saudi Arabia enthusiastically walked around the first car show catering to them on Thursday, just a few months after King Salman granted them the right to drive.
The exhibition was held in the less conservative port city of Jeddah and focused on fuel-efficient cars. Saleswomen were on hand to inform and assist the new prospective customers, all of whom won’t be allowed to drive until June.
Saudi Arabia was the last country in the world where women were forbidden to drive. They were granted the right in September 2017, as part of a series of reforms being introduced in order to shepherd the country into the 21st century.
“I cannot wait to drive!” a young woman wearing the niqab face veil told ABC News. “I want [my husband] to buy me a Range Rover!”
Women have long complained of the many constraints the driving ban has imposed on their lives, such as not being able to drive to work. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman launched a series of economic reforms known as “Vision 2030” that included economic benefits integrating women into the labor force.
Female activists demanding the right to drive risked imprisonment until as recently as June 2017, when known activist Loujain al Hathloul was taken in for questioning.
Since the ban was lifted in September, authorities have been busy setting up the infrastructure needed, such as appropriate driving schools, in a country where gender segregation is the norm.
Many Saudi women already drive in neighboring Arab countries and in Europe and the United States. The only place women are currently allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia is around go-kart racing tracks.
“I love coming here because it’s allowing me to prepare for June when I’m finally gonna be able to drive on the roads” Waad, a young woman who grew up in the country, told ABC News at the go-kart track.
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