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Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.

The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on Thursday, also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.

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“Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian,” the ministry of commerce and investment said on its website.

Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male “guardian” — normally the husband, father or brother — to do any government paperwork, travel or enroll in classes.

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