At least according to some (Library of Congress) customs of the Arabian peninsula also play a part in women's place in Saudi society.
In Saudi culture, the Sharia is interpreted according to a strict Sunni form known as the way of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) or Wahhabism.
The law is mostly unwritten, leaving judges with significant discretionary power which they usually exercise in favor of tribal traditions.
Gender roles in Saudi society come from local culture and interpretations of Sharia (Islamic law).
Sharia law, or the divine will, is derived by scholars through interpreting the Quran and hadith (sayings of and accounts about the Prophet's life).
In 2012, the Saudi Arabian government implemented a new policy to help with enforcement on the traveling restrictions for women.
Under this new policy, Saudi Arabian men receive a text message on their mobile phones whenever a woman under their custody leaves the country, even if she is traveling with her guardian.
The 1979 Iranian Revolution and subsequent Grand Mosque Seizure in Saudi Arabia caused the government to implement stricter enforcement of sharia.
Saudi women who were adults before 1979 recall driving, inviting non-mahram (unrelated) men into their homes (with the door open), and being in public without an abaya (full-body covering) or niqab (veil).
The government under King Abdullah was considered reformist.
It opened the country's first co-educational university, appointed the first female cabinet member, and passed laws against domestic violence.
However it moved up four places from the last report due to an increase in the percentage of women in parliament (from 0% to 20%), (based on the introduction of a new quota for women in parliament) and had the biggest overall score improvement relative to 2006 of any country in the Middle East.