Authorities have reduced the punishments imposed on women ahead of the driving ban ending, according to reports.

The ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia is coming to an end next year.

However, ahead of the reform coming into effect, authorities have reduced the punishment for those caught behind the wheel, according to Saudi publication Okaz.

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Women found driving before June 2018 (which is when women will be allowed to secure licences according to a royal decree) will no longer be detained, as was the case previously.

Instead, female drivers will be fined between SAR500 (Dhs489) and SAR900 (Dhs880), the newspaper reports.

 

One woman was penalised earlier this week after being filmed driving out of a Riyadh hotel, though the punishment imposed has not been disclosed by authorities.

The unnamed driver was not arrested, however, while her male guardian had to sign a pledge stating she would not violate regulations again, Bloomberg reported.

Traffic authorities have since reminded residents to refrain from breaking the ban until next year.

“We call on all Saudi citizens to respect the law and wait until the ban on women driving formally ends,” a police spokesman said this week, according to The Guardian.

People offering driving lessons to women before 2018 could also be penalised, a traffic general directorate spokesperson added, saying: “Nobody has been licenced to train women on driving in public places.”

“No woman will be allowed to drive before the formal lifting of the ban in June and the law will be applied to all those who post ads on social media offering driving lessons,” the spokesperson said, according to Gulf News. 

The end of the driving ban has been described as the start of a new era in the kingdom, which is currently the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving.

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The move was widely celebrated on social media at the time, with the hashtag #SaudiWomenCanDrive trending on Twitter.

The reform comes as part of the kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, a post-oil economy plan under which the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

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