Two of the 21 women in Saudi Arabia who were elected as municipal councillors in the historic elections last month, which saw women contest and vote for the first time in the kingdom, were asked to sit separately from men during the first council meeting this week. 

Luma Sulaiman and Rasha Hefdhi, the two women municipal councillors in Jeddah, were given a separate table to sit at during the first meeting of the council on Wednesday, Gulf News reported citing Arabic daily Al Eqtisadiya. 

The women, however, protested and demanded to be seated at the same table as the men, which reportedly led to an argument among the councillors. 

According to the report, at least 10 men had asked for the women's seating to be separated by a frosted glass. 

However, the women reportedly held their ground and were finally able to sit at the same table as the rest of the members. 

The municipal election held last month was seen as a step forward for the conservative kingdom that still bars its women from driving cars.

The late King Abdullah had allowed women to stand for elections to the local chambers of commerce for the first time in 2005. He had also brought 30 women into the Shura Council, the highest advisory body to the Saudi king, in 2013.

The two Jeddah councillors reportedly argued that women members of the Shura Council and the chambers of commerce were allowed to sit with men. 

In all, 979 women had contested in the 12 December elections, alongside 6,000 men. The 21 winning female candidates formed a small part of the 2,106 elected to local governing bodies.