Female members of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council are greeted by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (not seen) in this frame grab from video taken in Riyadh. -Reuters Photo

RIYADH: Thirty Saudi women took seats in Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom's history, as they were sworn in before King Abdullah on Tuesday at his palace in Riyadh.

The women took their seats in the same room with their 130 male colleagues and were sworn in collectively, state television said.

“The development we are working at must be gradual,” King Abdullah said in a brief statement broadcast on state television.

He recommended that the council show “realism” in its discussions and allow “reason to prevail in issues it has to deal” with.

On January 11, the king appointed the women, which include university graduates, human rights activists and two princesses, to the body. also known as the Saudi Consultative Council.

His decree marked a breakthrough in the kingdom that imposes stringent restrictions on women, who are banned from driving and denied the right to travel without the consent of a male guardian.

The monarch took the decisions following consultations with religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Abdullah has been carefully treading towards change, introducing municipal elections for the first time in 2005.

In 2011, he granted women the right to vote and run as candidates in the next local election, set for 2015, saying “we refuse to marginalise women's role in Saudi society.”

Opinion

Editorial

Shared goals
Updated 16 Aug, 2022

Shared goals

It is high time that all parties realise that negotiation on the economy does not need to be held hostage to political rivalries.
Making amends?
16 Aug, 2022

Making amends?

WHERE relations with the US are concerned, there has been a distinct shift in Imran Khan’s tone. While the PTI...
Hazardous celebration
16 Aug, 2022

Hazardous celebration

CAN celebratory actions that often result in death or lifelong injuries really be described as such? Be it Eid, New...
Taliban anniversary
15 Aug, 2022

Taliban anniversary

A YEAR ago on this day, the Afghan Taliban rolled into Kabul as the Western-backed government fell like a house of...
Extreme measures
Updated 15 Aug, 2022

Extreme measures

Government has overreacted to a degree that has given ammunition to the PTI to accuse it of ‘fascism’.
A depraved society
15 Aug, 2022

A depraved society

IF the extent of sexual violence against women and children is any measure of a society’s moral degradation, then ...