Prince Al-waleed Bin Talal
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal says preventing a woman from driving a car was an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an educationGetty Images

A Saudi Arabian prince has called on authorities in the Kingdom to lift a ban on women driving. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family, said on his Twitter page it was "time for women to drive".

Bin Talal's office later issued a statement explaining why the prince supports an end to the ban.

"Preventing a woman from driving a car is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity," the statement was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

"They are all unjust acts by a traditional society, far more restrictive than what is lawfully allowed by the precepts of religion."

Bin Talal also highlighted the "economic costs" caused by women who have to rely on "foreign" private drivers or taxis.

"Having women drive has become an urgent social demand predicated upon current economic circumstances," continued the statement.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

In December 2014, the Kingdom arrested two Saudi women for flouting the ban.

Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysaa al-Amoudi spent 73 days in prison.

Hathloul was arrested shortly after she documented her attempt to defy the ban, claiming that her driving licence, from the United Arab Emirates, could also be used in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Amoudi entered Saudi Arabia by car from the UAE shortly after the arrest, to support Hathloul by delivering food, water and a blanket. She was then arrested too.

Saudi Arabian women have demonstrated against the ban since 1990, when some 40 female activists drove their cars in the capital Riyadh, where they were arrested and had their passports confiscated.

Similar campaigns were launched in 2011 and 2013, while in 2007 some women petitioned the late King Abdullah to lift the ban.