Women in Saudi Arabia begin exercising new travel rights as reforms progress

Saudi women are beginning to exercise their new rights to travel without guardian approval as the Kingdom continues to enact progressive reforms as part of its Vision 2030 social and economic blueprint.

This week’s announcement by the Departments of Passport and Civil Status that the organization has begun enforcing the amended Travel Documents Law and regulations meant that Saudi women would now be able to travel without guardian approval, drawing praise from both Saudis and others worldwide.

Women over 21 can now get a passport and go abroad without permission in Saudi Arabia.

Women over 21 can now get a passport and go abroad without permission in Saudi Arabia.

This week, according to Reuters, women are starting to exercise their new rights. The news service interviewed a Saudi woman named Salma, a 40-year-old mother of three, who travels abroad regularly with authorization from her legal guardian – formerly her then-husband and now her father.

“But those rules were canceled this month, so when she went to Riyadh airport on Thursday, she crossed passport control on her own authority,” Reuters reports.

“You just feel like you’re human, you’re a complete human,” she told Reuters from the gate. “Not half, not part of, but you’re a complete human.”

Saudi Arabia, which has long been criticized over its strict social laws and norms especially with regard to women, continues to change and modernize.

Since 2015, under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi women gained the right to vote and run for office, to drive themselves, and recently to travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian, among other reforms.

The changes to travel authorization also affected younger Saudis seeking to study abroad. New rules put in place by Saudi government authorities have granted the right of all Saudi students studying oversees to travel without requiring a permit from their parents or guardians, even if they are under the age of 21.