There is no law on the books that prevents women from driving but the government refuses to issue them licenses.
Saudi Arabia is an ultra-conservative kingdom and the only country where women are still banned from driving. In 2011, Manal al-Sharif posted a highly scandalous video to YouTube in which she drove a vehicle herself to protest the repressive law.
Women are generally not allowed to socialise with males outside their immediate families and can be thrown in prison for such an offence.
"This is a long overdue small step in the right direction and we welcome this move if it means all women in Saudi Arabia will finally be able to drive without any restrictions".
Meanwhile, Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, called it a "new era" for her neighbors to the west. "Now revoke guardianship laws and stop treating women like children", HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said on Twitter.
Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world which prohibits women from driving.
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This article has been adapted from its original source. Though women are allowed to work, the requirement to arrange rides for themselves costs a great deal of time and money, not to mention the fact that they are perfectly capable of driving themselves.
Islamic scholars in the kingdom routinely used religious reasoning to justify the ban, arguing for years that the ban was in accordance with sharia law.
Reactions on social media have been mixed and al-Sharif, who is no stranger to threats and online harassment, believes this newfound freedom for women will not come easily.
Saudi's ambassador to the USA confirmed women will not need permission from their male guardians in order to apply for a licence.
Yet at the same time, the change highlights just how far the country has to go in championing women's basic rights.
Until now, only men were issues licences and women who drove in public risked being arrested and fined.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued the decree that will see women being allowed to drive cars in 2018 - a fact that could have an impact on the fortunes of ride-hailing services.
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