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Saudi Arabia on Monday began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades, authorities said, just weeks before the historic lifting of the conservative kingdom’s ban on female motorists.

Ten Saudi women swapped their foreign licences for Saudi ones in multiple cities, including the capital Riyadh, as the kingdom prepares to end its ban on June 24.

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The move, which follows a government crackdown on women activists, is part of a much-publicised liberalisation drive launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he seeks to modernise the petro-state.

“Ten Saudi women made history on Monday when they were issued driving licences,” said the information ministry’s Centre for International Communication (CIC).

“Expectations are that next week an additional 2,000 women will join the ranks of licensed drivers in the kingdom.”

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