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Saudi women make use of wedding contracts to assert their right to drive

DAMMAM, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi salesman Majd had just begun his wedding preparations when his fiancee sought to enshrine in their marriage contract a condition already guaranteed by law – her right to drive.

Wedding contracts have long been a safety net for brides in the deeply patriarchal society, used to guarantee demands that are often otherwise vulnerable to the whims of the husband or his family.

Such legally binding contracts typically codify anything from the woman’s right to have her own house, hire a maid, or to study or work.

But after the kingdom last year lifted a decades-long ban on female motorists, a popular new condition in the contracts is the right to own and drive a car, according to documents seen by AFP and interviews with wedding clerics.

Mr Majd, 29, who is due to marry this month in his native Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia, signed off on two demands from his 21-year-old fiancee – the right to drive and to work after marriage, according to the contract he shared with AFP.

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