Saudi Arabia bans abayas in exam halls

An abaya

Saudi Arabia has banned female students from wearing the abaya in examination halls.

All female students will now need to abide by school uniform regulations during the examination period but still must adhere to “decency regulations” for clothing, according to the Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC) and the Ministry of Education.

The abaya used to be virtually universal in Saudi Arabia but in 2018 the Kingdom announced that it would no longer being legally enforced for women in the country.

At the time Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman said: “The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men.”

He added that this doesn’t specifically mention a black abaya or a black head covering. It is absolutely up to each woman to select what kind of appropriate clothing she wants to wear, he said.

But despite this, most women in the country continue to wear abayas until now.

This latest development is part of a series of “reforms” in line with the nation’s 2030 vision which Riyadh says promotes women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength.

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According to Saudi officials, the Kingdom’s vision aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

In recent years more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, women have been allowed to use government services without a male guardian’s consent, permits for women’s gyms have been granted, and women have been able to secure driving licenses.

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