In an interview with the religious TV channel Almajd, he said that driving is "a dangerous matter that exposes women to evil" and warned that families wouldn't be able to keep track of the whereabouts of female relatives were they permitted to drive.
This. Saudi cleric urges continued ban on women driving due to 'men with weak spirits' could harm female drivers pic.twitter.com/NXwXfFss50— Privacy Matters (@PrivacyMatters) April 11, 2016
The ban on female drivers is just one of a number of restrictions which apply to women under Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, which Human Rights Watch have called "discriminatory." The system ensures that women are forbidden from obtaining a passport, marrying or enrolling in higher education without the approval of a male guardian.
Despite Saudi Arabia's highly controversial record on human rights, including punishments such as death by stoning for adultery and death for blasphemy and homosexuality, the regime is somewhat anomalous in that it remains a long-term ally of western countries like the UK and the USA.
So much so that the UK Government was actually very close to agreeing to a contract regarding the running of Saudi Prison services last year, although the UK Ministry of Justice ultimately backed out of the deal following pressure from cabinet members and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn.
Some progress has been made, in that women were allowed to stand, and vote in municipal elections for the first time in 2015. In the same year though, Loujain al-Hathloul — a women's rights activist — attempted to drive across the border to Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emerites, for which she received a 10-week jail sentence.
Despite sustained criticism from human rights advocates, western governments' attitudes towards the Saudi regime seem unlikely to alter any time soon, likewise the country's male guardianship system.