Till 26th of this month, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women could not drive; women driving was considered breaking the law. However, King Abdullah’s recent decree changes all that. This surprising move from the notoriously conservative regime is appreciated and a step in the right direction. The previous justifications provided by various religious scholars against women driving have proved nothing but a house of cards as the new decree has entitled women the right to drive.

The decision was met with jubilation from Saudi women and from around the world. And while the move is being described as a “great victory” and a “historic event”, it must be remembered that Saudi women – who are still subject to strict dress codes and gender segregation – have a long way to go.

Observers see the decision as a part of the program called Vision 2030. The man behind the vision is no one else but the new Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who through the implementation of 2030 vision wants to bring modernity to his country, albeit a very conservative version of modernity.

The women driving ban may be the most emblematic representation of Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservatism, but it is certainly not the most repressive. The country still is the world’s biggest executor of death sentences, clamps down on dissent and discussion hard, and is ruled by an unelected monarchy living in decadence. The human rights violations in Yemen war are a separate story altogether.

In the light of issues mentioned above, such initiative can be seen as baby steps only. For the younger leadership of Muhammad bin Salman, there is a long way to go before he can call his country modern. Can we expect more progressive measures and initiatives from the young Crown Prince when he comes to power? It is hoped that they do.