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Ten Saudi women were issued driver's licenses by the government of Saudi Arabia on Monday, according to a news release from the country's Ministry of Media.

"The General Directorate of Traffic started replacing the approved global licences with Saudi licences in preparation for the date of allowing women's driving on 24 June, 2018", the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Jeddah - Women from Wales, Canada and the U.S. have been selected as part of a global team to train the first female driving instructors in Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya English reported quoting BBC.

The first 10 women took a brief driving test before receiving a license, as they'd already held licenses to drive in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Lebanon.

The issuance of the licences means that for the first time in more than 50 years, women will be able to drive legally in Saudi Arabia.

The Associated Press reports 10 women were granted licenses.

The move, which follows a government crackdown on women activists, is part of a much-publicised liberalisation drive launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he seeks to modernise the petro-state.

In September, a royal decree repealed a ban on women driving in the kingdom.

"Driving to me represents having a choice - the choice of independent movement".

In preparation for the lifting of the ban, Saudi Arabia last week passed a landmark law to criminalise sexual harassment, introducing a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300,000 riyals ($80,000).

The woman was among nine others who were the first group of women allowed to obtain their licenses. A Saudi government statement released on Saturday said that the activists had been arrested on charges that included "suspicious contact with foreign parties", without naming them.

Public prosecutors described their efforts as a "coordinated activity undermining the security and stability of the kingdom".

The surprise move comes as four iconic Saudi women's rights activists who'd campaigned for the right to drive remain under arrest, facing possible trial.


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