Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud covers the magazine’s June issue.

Ahead of the June 24 end of Saudi Arabia’s ban on women behind the wheel, Vogue Arabia shot a cover featuring Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud, daughter of the late King Abdullah.

The magazine said it aimed to “celebrates the exciting and progressive changes transforming the Kingdom,” but the cover has faced criticism internationally.

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The first Saudi women have been issued their driving licences

“In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change… Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm,” Princess Hayfa told Vogue.

The Guardian reported that 11 activists were arrested in Saudi Arabia in May, most of whom had been identified by rights groups as campaigning for women’s right to drive and an end to male guardianship in the Kingdom.

“At least four of the activists were released last week, according to Amnesty International, but others remain in detention,” added US publication Time.

The issue was also covered by NPRRefinery 29The TelegraphThe New York TimesIndependent, and Hollywood Reporter

saudi women

On Monday, 10 Saudi women were issued local driving licences in exchange for foreign ones they already held.

The driving licence 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.

The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

Under the plans, women will be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities from this year, and female students in the kingdom are now allowed to carry their phones while on campus.

Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobsa royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.

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Images: Boo George/Vogue Arabia, Saudi Ministry of Information