This photo shows the Absher App on a phone in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, March 7, 2019. The Saudi government app is mostly a way for people to pay traffic fines and complete other administrative tasks electronically. But one feature isn’t…
This photo shows the Absher App on a phone in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, March 7, 2019. But one feature of the app: the ability for men to grant or deny a woman permission to travel. On Thursday, women were given the freedom travel without male consent.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Saudi Arabia has issued new laws that grant women greater freedoms by allowing any citizen to apply for a passport and travel freely, ending a long-standing and controversial guardianship policy that had required male consent for a woman to travel or carry a passport.

The changes approved by King Salman and his Cabinet allow any person 21 and older to travel abroad without prior consent and any citizen to apply for a Saudi passport on their own.

The decrees were published early Friday in the kingdom’s official weekly gazette.

Other changes issued in the decrees allow women to register a marriage, divorce or child’s birth and to be issued official family documents.

The changes were widely celebrated by Saudis on Twitter, but also drew criticism from some conservatives.

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