Saudi Arabia is not yet ready to end the world's only ban on women driving cars.
Despite moves towards rights for women under King Abdullah before his death, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud has said the Saudi community "is not convinced about women driving".
The 30-year-old prince, who has amassed increasing powers since his father King Salman came to the throne, said the topic was not about Islam but about cultural norms.
"Women driving is not a religious issue as much as it is an issue that relates to the community itself that either accepts it or refuses it," he said, according to local media reports.
The defence minister and favourite son of the current king, who is suffering from dementia, has been accused of influencing Saudi policy from the wings since his father came to the throne last January.
The German intelligence agency BND published a memoir which said the prince's concentration of power into his own hands “harbours a latent risk that in seeking to establish himself in the line of succession in his father’s lifetime, he may overreach”.
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
10 examples of Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses
In October 2014, three lawyers, Dr Abdulrahman al-Subaihi, Bander al-Nogaithan and Abdulrahman al-Rumaih , were sentenced to up to eight years in prison for using Twitter to criticize the Ministry of Justice.
In March 2015, Yemen’s Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was forced into exile after a Shia-led insurgency. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition has responded with air strikes in order to reinstate Mr Hadi. It has since been accused of committing war crimes in the country.
Women who supported the Women2Drive campaign, launched in 2011 to challenge the ban on women driving vehicles, faced harassment and intimidation by the authorities. The government warned that women drivers would face arrest.
Members of the Kingdom’s Shia minority, most of whom live in the oil-rich Eastern Province, continue to face discrimination that limits their access to government services and employment. Activists have received death sentences or long prison terms for their alleged participation in protests in 2011 and 2012.
All public gatherings are prohibited under an order issued by the Interior Ministry in 2011. Those defy the ban face arrest, prosecution and imprisonment on charges such as “inciting people against the authorities”.
In March 2014, the Interior Ministry stated that authorities had deported over 370,000 foreign migrants and that 18,000 others were in detention. Thousands of workers were returned to Somalia and other states where they were at risk of human rights abuses, with large numbers also returned to Yemen, in order to open more jobs to Saudi Arabians. Many migrants reported that prior to their deportation they had been packed into overcrowded makeshift detention facilities where they received little food and water and were abused by guards.
The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to deny access to independent human rights organisations like Amnesty International, and they have been known to take punitive action, including through the courts, against activists and family members of victims who contact Amnesty.
Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for using his liberal blog to criticise Saudi Arabia’s clerics. He has already received 50 lashes, which have reportedly left him in poor health.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images
Dawood al-Marhoon was arrested aged 17 for participating in an anti-government protest. After refusing to spy on his fellow protestors, he was tortured and forced to sign a blank document that would later contain his ‘confession’. At Dawood’s trial, the prosecution requested death by crucifixion while refusing him a lawyer.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 aged either 16 or 17 for participating in protests during the Arab spring. His sentence includes beheading and crucifixion. The international community has spoken out against the punishment and has called on Saudi Arabia to stop. He is the nephew of a prominent government dissident.
Prince bin Salman has elsewhere appeared to indicate that he is supportive of increasing women's rights in the Sunni Islam-majority country.
In a previous interview he has said: "We believe women have rights in Islam that they've yet to obtain."
Yet he said most recently that the "community" still thinks allowing women to drive will have negative consequences.
When asked why Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest rates of women in the workforce in the world he said change would "take time".
"[The woman] is not used to working. She needs more time to accustom herself to the idea of work," he told The Economist.
"A large percentage of Saudi women are used to the fact of staying at home. They're not used to being working women.
"It just takes time."
He also said women working would help the country be more productive and deal with population growth issues.
Women in Saudi Arabia cannot open a bank account without their husband's permission or leave the home without a male guardian known as a "mahram".
The Shoura Council in the country, the king's advisory body, recently ruled that female television presenters should not "show off their beauty", while a young woman who was raped while out by herself received more lashes in punishment than one of her attackers.
During his lifetime, previous monarch King Abdullah opened the first coeducational university, named the first female deputy minister and said women can vote and run in municipal polls, despite strong opposition from religious clerics.