Saudi Majdoleen Mohammed Alateeq (R), a newly-licensed Saudi driver, prepares for driving her car near her home in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, on June 24, 2018. AFP / Fayez Nureldine
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Long relegated to the back seat, Saudi women this week celebrated taking the wheel for the first time in a much-awaited rite of passage, but one crucial hurdle remains – the attitude of men.A woman driver is such a novelty across the gender-segregated Muslim kingdom that when the decree took effect Sunday, it prompted jubilation, disbelief and reactions akin perhaps to those evoked by the first woman doctor in the 19th century.Fueling the sexist ridicule, as women drivers hit the roads for the first time Sunday, Saudi media splashed images of the inauguration of a gleaming new holding cell for women traffic violators.'Road Romeos'For now, the women taking to the roads appear mainly to be those who have swapped foreign licenses for Saudi ones.'New normal'Authorities, however, have said that Saudi women will not need a guardian's permission to apply for a driver's license.The new provisions come after Saudi authorities last October arrested a man who threatened a violent backlash against any female driver whose car breaks down.
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