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  1. ITV Report

Ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia lifted by royal decree

Saudi Arabia is to allow women to drive in the country for the first time after a royal decree lifted a long-standing ban.

King Salman issued the edict on Tuesday allowing women to obtain driving licences in the Middle Eastern nation, state television announced.

Saudi Arabia was the only country left in the world where women were not permitted to drive.

The ultra-conservative state had gained negative international attention for years after detaining women who defied the ban.

Women's rights activists had been pushing for the ban to be lifted since the 1990s.

The move has been welcomed by the US as a 'great step'. Credit: AP

The move comes as Saudi Arabia works to improve its image around the world.

It has long been under the spotlight over its records on equal rights.

The US welcomed the decision, with a State Department spokeswoman saying the country was "happy" with the development.

Heather Nauert said it was a "great step in the right direction for that country".