Saudi Arabia lifts restrictions on ability of women to independently obtain passports and travel freely

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced groundbreaking legal changes to enhance the role of women in society, including an end to restrictions on travel that puts women above the age of 21 on the same legal footing as adult men.

The official gazette published a Royal Decree issued on July 30 ratifying a Council of Ministers’ resolution in its latest session that same day to approve a new law that eliminates any differentiation between Saudi women and men in the obtainment of passports. The changes, which go into effect by the end of August, will guarantee women the same freedom to travel that men enjoy.

The new law builds on a series of recent reforms under Vision 2030 that have transformed the country, including changes specifically designed to elevate the status of women.

The Kingdom already has granted women the right to drive vehicles, independently open and run businesses and live and work in an environment free of harassment. Women now have the ability to hold senior positions.

As part of the transformation agenda of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is committed to helping women reach their full potential. The knowledge, skills and capabilities of Saudi women are among the greatest assets of the country and the government is committed to putting women at the centre of the social and economic transformation taking place.

Commenting on the move, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, said on Twitter that 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,” Princess Reema wrote on her official Twitter account.

“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.

“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.”