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Sun 24 Jun 2018 09:59 AM

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Women drivers will boost petrol demand, says Saudi oil minister

Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih said he was looking forward to his daughters being able to drive

Women drivers will boost petrol demand, says Saudi oil minister
“There will be more cars on the road,” Khalid Al-Falih said. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINEAFPGetty Images

The end of Saudi Arabia’s driving ban for women will have an impact on the economy and gasoline consumption, the energy minister said.

On Sunday the kingdom ending its status as the only country in the world to ban half the population from getting behind the wheel.

“There will be more cars on the road,” Khalid Al-Falih said in Vienna, where he was attending an OPEC meeting.

"Women will be more empowered and more mobile and I think they will participate more in the job market over time, so I think it’s going to contribute to employment of females in Saudi Arabia. A secondary effect will probably be higher gasoline demand.”

The plan to allow women to drive is one of the most dramatic move in the government’s bid to open up Saudi society and modernise the economy. Yet at the same time, the government has jailed some women who campaigned to drive for years.

Saudi Arabia adheres to an austere version of Islam and has curbs on women, barring them from driving and requiring them to have the permission of a male guardian to marry or travel abroad.

When asked if he was looking forward to his daughters being able to drive, Al-Falih said, “absolutely.”