Monday, February 19, 2018

Ideal Driver Award to include women starting next year

The English language daily Saudi Gazette reported (on February 17, 2018) that starting in 2019, Saudi women drivers will be eligible to win a safe driving award with a 500,000 SR prize. You can link to the story here and read the text below.

Khalid Al-Balahdi
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM — The Eastern Province Traffic Safety Committee has announced that it will include women drivers in the annual Ideal Driver Award next year after making necessary amendment in the regulations for the prize.

Abdullah Al-Rajhi, secretary-general of the committee, said the next round of the award will be its fifth edition and will include women candidates for the first time.

“We will look into the award’s rules and regulations and amend them to allow the participation of women. One of the award’s regulations is to have a clean driving record free of any traffic violations for three years prior to the date of the award. This rule will have to be amended since women will start to drive in the Kingdom only this year,” said Al-Rajhi.

Saudi Aramco has nearly completed a driving school for women employees of the company and it has also cooperated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University to give technical support and consultancy for setting up their own driving school for women, Al-Rajhi said.

“Prizes worth up to half a million riyals are up for grabs by the winners of the Ideal Driver Award. Support from Emir of the Eastern Province Prince Saud Bin Naif, who is head of the Traffic Safety Committee, and his deputy Prince Ahmad Bin Fahd Bin Salman is the core reason behind the success of the committee. They both believe in the committee’s purpose and cause,” said Al-Rajhi.

He claimed that the committee was successful in bringing down the rate of accidents in the province by 41 percent since 2012.

“The death rate from road accidents in the Kingdom is currently a victim every hour. An average of 25 people die every day and over 9,000 people die every year due to road accidents. This is in addition to some 38,000 people who are severely injured each year. All of this is due to drivers and pedestrians violating traffic safety laws,” said Al-Rajhi.

He added victims of road accidents occupy 30 percent of hospital beds in the country and they cause an annual economic loss of SR27 billion in terms of the cost of treatment and missed days of work.

The Ideal Driver Award contains a number of categories.

“There is an award for the excellent private driver and an award for the excellent public driver. The award is granted to both the private and public sectors and also to school and university drivers," said Abdulhameed Al-Mujil, president of the Saudi Association for Traffic Safety.

He urged Saudi families to sign their drivers up for the award to encourage them to follow road safety regulations.

Friday, February 16, 2018

1,000 Saudi women have signed up as Careem drivers

In the Gulf region, an Uber-like company called Careem employs thousands of drivers. Here is a story by Harriet Pudney (posted 2/15/18) from Emirates Woman magazine about 1,000 Saudi women signing up to be drivers for Careem. A link to the story is here, and the story is below.

They’ll be hitting the road from June.

Dubai-based ride-sharing app Careem has opened up applications for women in Saudi Arabia, and 1,000 have already put their names forward.
Speaking to Thomson Reuters site Zawya, co-founder Magnus Olsson said Careem was looking to expand significantly in the country.
The Saudi government has ruled that any new drivers for apps like Careem must be nationals. Existing expat drivers are allowed to continue, Zawya reports.
 These changes come as part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious post-oil economy plan which hopes to increase participation of women in the workforce and diversify the country’s industries.
“There is still so much room for growth in the Saudi market. Small parts of the population in Saudi are using services such as Careem, and, as economic activity increases, there will be more need to move around, whether for jobs or other private activities,” Olsson told the site.
In September, it was announced that the ban on women behind the wheel would end in June this year.
The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
The crown prince is also behind an initiative to turn 200 kilometres of the country’s Red Sea coast into a series of luxury retreats.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nissan Gives Saudi Women Driving Lessons After Country Lifts Ban on Female Drivers

This January 16, 2018 article from AdAge Magazine details a new Nissan campaign to encourage Saudi women to learn to drive. The video is in Arabic with English subtitles. A link to the story and video is here and the story is pasted below. The story is by Alexandra Jardine.

Nissan Middle East is marking the government of Saudi Arabia's recent decision to overturn the ban on women driving cars in its latest campaign in the region.
From June this year, women will be allowed to drive, but according to the documentary-style film from Nissan, many are hesitant because of prejudice against them and fear that their male relatives will disapprove.
The brand and agency TBWA/RAAD took a group of women and offered them a special driving lesson; unbeknownst to them, the instructors were men close to them such as their fathers, brothers and husbands. The video shows their surprise as they meet their relatives, and how their confidence grows as they their first lesson behind the wheel.
Nissan will be sharing the campaign with the hashtag #SheDrives in order to encourage women to apply for their licences.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Women-only Saudi university begins recruiting for driving school

On January 3, 2018, Gulf Business reported that driving instructors are being hired at Riyadh's all-women Princess Nourah University. You can read the story below, and link to it on-line here.
Note: in the story below there are several related links of interest.

Saudi Arabia’s Princess Nourah Bin Abdulrahman University has begun accepting applications for driving instructor positions after confirming plans to setup a school last year.
The university, which is claimed to be the largest institution of its kind for women globally, confirmed plans for the school days after Saudi monarch King Salman announced a decree to allow women to drive from June next year.
Read: Saudi university to set up driving school for women
The driving academy on the university campus will provide both theoretical and practical driving lessons.
General supervisor for media management, Amani Al-Hammad, told Arab News instructor applications are now being accepted through the university website.
Applicants must have a valid driver’s licence and a certified trainer’s permit and be either Saudi or a resident, suggesting the majority will be male.
However, the process is also open to women in Riyadh who have a valid driver’s licence obtained abroad.
Demand for driving lessons is expected to significantly increase this year as women prepare to take to the roads.
Read: Saudi driving schools to accept women from March
Driving schools are expected to begin accepting women from March but many female citizens and residents have already travelled abroad to obtain international licences that can be converted for local use after the June 24 deadline.
Read: Saudi women have spent $3.1m to obtain driving licences abroad
Under recent rule changes from Saudi’s Directorate General of Traffic, drivers must take 30 to 120 hours of lessons before taking a test to obtain a licence.
A survey released in October indicated more than four fifths of women in the kingdom plan to get behind the wheel when the ban is lifted.
Read: Study reveals 82% of Saudi women plan to drive

First Saudi Woman to Run a Gas Station

The Saudi Gazette/Okaz published this story about the first Saudi gas station to be run by a woman, in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. (January 8, 2018)

By Abdulaziz Al-Rubaie

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM — A Saudi woman is running a gas station making her the first woman to do so in a field that is usually dominated by men.

Mervat Bukhari said she has her office by a gas station where she manages the workers and ensures that all safety procedures are taken.

“My station is on the highway in the Eastern Province. Soon women will start driving and I aim to empower and support women through my business. I plan to have a special lane for women for them to be comfortable,” said Bukhari.

She added that her company does only manage a gas station but also a resort and other facilities.

“I work as the head of the regional media department in an investment group. The group invests in the gas stations. They needed a woman to supervise the service chamber of the gas station. The gas station I am running has a five stars rating. So the group needed someone with experience to run it,” said Bukhari.

She said she has been diligent at supervising the work flow of the station and other facilities such as sports halls and hotel services offices.

“We plan to have women feeling safe at gas stations. We will also build a nearby shopping center to employ more women and provide better services for women as well. Being the first Saudi woman to occupy such a position is definitely an honor and a responsibility that I take seriously,” said Bukhari.

10,000 women to drive taxis in Saudi Arabia

This article (one of many covering this story) is from the Khaleej Times of January 12, 2018. You can link to the story here and the story is pasted in below. I believe it originated with AFP.

All drivers employed by the two firms are male -- mostly Saudi nationals driving their privately-owned vehicles.

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.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Women driving in Saudi Arabia: Important questions answered

On December 17, 2017 the Arab News published this story with information about women driving. The graphic showing the economic benefits is very powerful, and I agree with the assessment that on an economic basis alone, the change in the law makes good sense. It will encourage families to start small businesses and also to circulate money inside the kingdom rather than sending it abroad. A link to the story is here and the story is pasted in below.

JEDDAH: The General Department of Traffic (GDT) and commanders of road security forces have prepared everything needed to enable the GDT to perform its duties when women start to drive in the Kingdom.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published answers offered by the GDT to many questions regarding procedures and regulations relating to implementation of the decision allowing women to drive.
Valid driving licenses obtained from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can be replaced by corresponding Saudi licenses, the GDT said.
Holders of valid and recognized international licenses will be exempt from a driving test. Foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia can use their recognized licenses for one year in the Kingdom as long as they remain valid.
The minimum age for receiving driving licenses for private cars or motorcycles is 18 years, while the minimum age for receiving licenses for public transport and public work vehicles is 20 years, the GDT said. Seventeen-year-olds can get provisional licenses for one year only.
Women can work as civilian personnel at road security checkpoints and security control jobs, the GDT said, adding that this is not a new development because women have previously been employed at checkpoints at entrances to Makkah during Hajj.
The task of women working at security checkpoints and patrol centers will mainly deal with violators and road users as requested — such as checking IDs, inspections and arrests — with the possibility of being transferred in the future to the uniformed police force after undergoing special training.
Regarding traffic violations or accidents involving female drivers, the GDT said there is coordination between the ministries of interior and labor and social development to use women care centers as detention centers if necessary.
Recruiting foreign women to work as drivers is subject to the regulations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the GDT added.
There will be no discrimination between male and female drivers, the department said. Women will be allowed to drive trucks and ride motorcycles as long as they meet the stated requirements.
They will not be prevented from driving outside cities and towns, and cars owned by women will not be issued special license plates or special numbers.