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Saudi Women-Only Showroom Opens In Jeddah

The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road.

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Women flocked to Le Mall in Jeddah on Thursday to check out the kingdom's first car exhibition aimed at women, a few months after Saudi Arabia granted them the right to drive. Pink, orange and yellow balloons hung in the mall's showroom as women posed for photos and selfies in front of the cars. One woman in the driver's seat fixed her face cover. Another wrapped her turquoise-painted fingernails around the steering wheel, feeling it out.

Also Read: Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban On Women Driving

In a decree issued in September, King Salman ordered by June an end to the ban on women drivers, a conservative tradition that has limited women's mobility and been seen by rights activists as an emblem of their suppression.

Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women drivers. The landmark royal decree has been hailed as proof of a new progressive trend in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's cost of living rose after the government hiked domestic gas prices and introduced value-added tax (VAT) in January.

The exhibition focused on fuel-efficient cars and provided a team of saleswomen to help their new customer base. The showroom carried signs emblazoned with the slogan "Drive and Shop", a play on words in Arabic, using the female form of the verbs.

Also Read: Women Will Be Able To Ride Motorcycles In Saudi Arabia From June 2018

"It is known that women are the largest section who shops in malls," said Sharifa Mohammad, the heads the exhibition's saleswomen. "This whole mall is run by women anyway. All the cashiers are women. Everyone in the restaurant are women."

(Reporting by video team in Jeddah; Writing by Sarah Dadouch in Riyadh; Editing by Richard Chang)

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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