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Even a year ago, it would have been hard to imagine – Saudi women clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts, revving motorbikes at a Riyadh sports circuit. But ahead of the historic lifting of a decadeslong ban on female drivers on June 24, women gather weekly at the privately owned Bikers Skills Institute to learn how to ride bikes.Overturning the world's only ban on female drivers, long a symbol of repression against women, is the most striking reform yet launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.None of the women at the floodlit motoring circuit wanted to talk about the crackdown, a deeply sensitive issue, focusing instead on securing a basic freedom long-denied to them.Most days the circuit is the domain of drag racers and bike enthusiasts – all men.But since offering courses to women in February on the basics of bike riding, four female enthusiasts have enrolled, most of them Saudis, Bukaryeva said.In Saudi Arabia, taking the wheel has long been a man's prerogative.Topping all concerns is the crackdown on women activists while the kingdom trumpets women's rights.
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