"The general directorate of traffic started replacing worldwide driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences".
A number of women who campaigned for the right to drive remain under arrest, however. The AP notes that the women had already possessed licenses in other countries.
Saudi Arabia started issuing its first driving licences to women weeks before the kingdom lifts a ban on female drivers.
Rights groups earlier reported arrests of at least 11 people last month, mostly identified as women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative Islamic country's male guardianship system. After confirming the validity of foreign licenses submitted via an online portal (http://www.sdlp.sa), and assessing applicants' ability to drive by conducting a practical test, the first group of women received their Saudi licenses on Monday.
The AP reports that the women now under arrest could potentially face a trial.
They not only risked arrest by pushing for the right to drive for years, but also called for an end to guardianship laws that give male relatives final say over a woman marrying or travelling overseas.
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Almost 50 women took part in that first driving protest some 28 years ago.
Following the issuance of licenses, a video showing a woman receiving here Saudi driving license went viral online.
Others were detained over the years during various efforts by women's rights activists to drive. "Thousands of congratulations to the daughters of the homeland, being issued the first license in Saudi Arabia", the tweet read. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman ordered last September to allow women to drive effective from June 24.
SPA said authorities started swapping worldwide licences for Saudi ones in multiple locations across the kingdom, with women applicants made to undergo a "practical test". "If, as it appears, their detention is related exclusively to their work as human rights defenders and activists on women's issues, they should be released immediately", she said.
His Vision 2030 reform plan for a post-oil era seeks to elevate women to almost one-third of the workforce, up from about 22 per cent now.