British prime minister Theresa May stood up to Saudi Arabia’s repressive regime by refusing to wear a headscarf during a visit there yesterday.

Shunning the desert kingdom’s strict Islamic dress code – and in defiance of official UK Foreign Office advice – May met officials and was seen out in public with her hair showing. (The main image shows her arriving at the Saudi Stock Exchange in the capital Riyadh escorted by Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan).

A British government spokesman said May had made a ‘personal choice’ and a source travelling with the prime minister said it was intended as a ‘statement’ .

May has made it clear she believes Saudi women deserve greater freedoms. Although they are inching towards some sort of parity with men in certain respects, they are still forbidden from most activities western women take for granted. For instance, Saudi women are banned from driving a car thanks to a religious fatwa imposed by clerics.

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