Historic Change: First Female Taxi Drivers in Saudi Arabia

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After Saudi announcement of plans to lift the ban on women driving by June 2018, Uber and Careem started to recruit female drivers.

Keep on reading to know more.

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First steps

After the Saudi eased restrictions on women driving and finally allowed almost half its population to get behind the wheel, the driving companies Uber and Careem are getting ready to hire female chauffeurs.

Currently, all drivers employed by the two firms are male – mostly Saudi nationals driving their privately-owned vehicles, according to to statistics shared with CNN by both companies.

Careem’s efforts

Careem driving service launched a series of 90-minute training sessions, in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, targeting Saudi women who have already acquired valid driving licenses while abroad.

The sessions educate attendees about Saudi road laws, customer service techniques, and how to use the application’s platform.

“From the first moment, we announced our willingness to welcome the ladies to work on our platform,” says Abdullah Elyas, co-founder and chief privacy officer at Careem, over email.

As Elyas says, already thousands of Saudi women showed interest in becoming drivers. The company plans to hire more than 10,000 “female captains” by June 2018.

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And what about Uber?

Uber also doesn’t lose the opportunity to expand their base. The driving service has announced plans to open “one-stop-shop” facilities dedicated to recruiting future female drivers, or “partners”, as the company calls them. These Green Light Hubs already exist in the country to serve male employees.

“We will partner up with necessary stakeholders to facilitate the paperwork, training access, and access to vehicles, including access to driving schools run by third party partners,” says Zeid Hreish, Uber’s general manager in Saudi Arabia.

Important limitations that still exist

Despite the first steps to give women more rights, Saudi still follows many restrictions for women.

Here are some of them:

  • Women need permission from a male guardian in order to marry or divorce a man.
  • Women are segregated from men in many areas of public life, including restaurants, workplaces, and other public venues.
  • They generally must obtain permission from their male guardian before receiving an elective surgery, but those requirements vary between hospitals.
  • It’s not allowed for women to work for certain employers or open certain businesses.
  • They can’t wear what they please in public.
  • Women are permitted to testify in court, but their testimony is worth only half of a man’s and is equivalent to that of a minor.
  • Women can face tremendous difficulties gaining custody of their children after a divorce, if her sons are older than seven or her daughters are older than nine.

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Historic Change: First Female Taxi Drivers in Saudi Arabia
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Historic Change: First Female Taxi Drivers in Saudi Arabia
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After Saudi announcement of plans to lift the ban on women driving by June 2018, Uber and Careem started to recruit female drivers.
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