Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, a member of the top Muslim clerical body in Saudi Arabia, said that women should not be obliged to wear abayas as the objective of the Sharia code is to cover the entire body with any long and loose-fitting garment, whether using a cloak or any form of modest clothing.
More than 90 percent of women in the Muslim world do not wear the abaya, Sheikh Mutlaq noted, according to Reuters. It follows the recent pattern of freedoms the Kingdom has been witnessing with the ascent of young Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to power.
A member of the Council of Senior Scholars, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, argued that the abayas women now wear are unnecessary to preserve modesty.
A senior Saudi cleric has said that women should not be required to wear abayas.
The government has not said whether it will change the law, but this is the first such comment from a senior religious figure.
Saudi Arabia, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, requires them to wear the garment by law.
The move came four months after the kingdom announced an end to a long-standing ban on women driving - a major change to the country's ultra-conservative social order. In 2016, a Saudi woman was detained for removing her abaya on a main street in the capital of Riyadh. Women are now also allowed to attend mixed public sporting events.
Under Saudi Arabia's existing guardianship system, a male family member - normally the father, husband or brother - must grant permission for a woman's study, travel and a host of other activities.