Associated Press/Nariman El-Mofty Ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia had long warned that allowing women to drive would lead to sin and expose women to harassment. Saudi stocks.TASI rose almost two percent on Sunday and insurance firms made solid gains, as demand from women is expected to boost the automotive sector.
Out of 1.67 million foreign male domestic workers, 1.38 million of those are drivers in Saudi Arabia, according to the most recent official figures.
It's midnight in Riyadh, and she's making her way across the city she was born and raised in, finally in the driver's seat of her own auto. King Salman ordered the ban to be lifted last September as part of reforms pushed by his son in what is a conservative Muslim kingdom.
The detainees include 28-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul - also held in 2014 for more than 70 days for attempting to drive from neighbouring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia - and Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at Riyadh's King Saud University.
On November 6, 1990, 47 women drove themselves through the streets of Riyadh in an act of protest against, and in defiance of, the ban, stopping only when they were arrested.
Some still face resistance from conservative relatives, and many accustomed to private drivers say they are reluctant to take on the country's busy highways.
Although women do not need male permission to obtain a driver's license, the culture still dictates that fathers, husbands and brothers have final say.
However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive.
Women with licences from Gulf countries will be required to convert them to Saudi licences, according to the Kingdom's traffic department. Many haven't had a chance to take the gender-segregated driving courses that were first offered to women only a few months ago. "I hope people around the world will share in our joy today by sharing their most memorable driving story using #worlddrivingday", said Aseel Al Hamad.
Saudi Arabia's air defense forces intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by Yemen's Houthi militia over Riyadh on Sunday, state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV said.
Women in the capital Riyadh and other cities began zipping around streets bathed in amber floodlights soon after the ban was lifted at midnight, some in cars with thumping stereo music. "Some naughty guys, you know", she said, giggling shyly.
"I'm proud, proud, proud", says one man driving by the scene.
"I definitely won't like to drive", said Fayza al-Shammary, a 22-year-old saleswoman.
The change should save families billions of dollars on chauffeurs while encouraging more women into the workforce and increasing productivity, if only modestly at first.
Rights group Amnesty International has hailed the end of the driving ban.