Ride hailing applications in Saudi Arabia are preparing to hire Saudi female chauffeurs, months ahead of lifting a ban that prevents women from driving or owning driving licenses in the country, a CNN report said.
The ride hailing applications Uber and Careem recruited their first female drivers in Saudi Arabia, after the Kingdom announced plans to lift the ban on women driving by June 2018.
Female customers currently represent 80 per cent of Uber’s Saudi rider base and 70 per cent of business for its Dubai-based counterpart Careem, according to statistics shared with CNN by both companies.
The apps are a lifeline to women with no independent way to get around the Kingdom.
All drivers employed by the two firms are male — mostly Saudi nationals driving their privately-owned vehicles.
Following the ground-breaking royal decree that announced plans to lift the ban on women driving in September 2017, both companies have been preparing to hire their first female drivers.
After the decree was issued, Careem 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.
Women to become taxi drivers in Saudi Arabia
Careem operates in 13 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan and is valued at around $1 billion. Careem plans to hire more than 10,000 “female captains” also known as drivers.
Careem has already received thousands of applications from Saudi women interested in becoming drivers, Elyas says. Those who complete the training sessions receive a certificate which acts as a guarantee that they have officially joined Careem’s team, bar any changes to Saudi traffic laws, says Careem’s public relations manager, Murtadha Alalawi.
Uber 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.
They 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.
Uber has also launched “listening sessions” for women in Riyadh, which have been attended by a number of influential figures including the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The sessions are aimed at “shaping the company’s priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom,” and have addressed topics such as problems women could face when driving.