The king has promised to improve women's status, previously opening the first coed university and appointing the first female deputy minister.

Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote for the first time in its modern history as part of changes King Abdullah said will let them run in future municipal elections.

“We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society in every field of work,” Abdullah said yesterday on state television. “Women have the right to submit their candidacy for municipal council membership and have the right to take part in submitting candidates in accordance with Shariah.” Bloomberg Businessweek

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