Uber and Careem hire first female drivers in KSA

After the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) decided to lift its ban on women driving in June 2018, Uber and Careem have started hiring and training women drivers a reports CNN.

Careem plans to hire more than 10,000 “female captains” (drivers) by June 2018, said Careem’s co-founder and chief privacy officer, Doctor Abdallah Elyas.

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,” Zeid Hreish, Uber’s general manager in Saudi Arabia, stated.

Uber also plans to hold “listening sessions” for women in Riyadh to help form it’s “priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom,” and take into consideration any social and legal problems women could face when driving.

Female customers represent 80 per cent of Uber’s Saudi customer base and 70 per cent of business for Careem. But by June of this year, all restrictions on women driving will be lifted in Saudi Arabia.

Uber and Careem are predicted to lose many of their customers as women will choose to drive and travel on their own.  However, they plan to gain new customers too. By employing female drivers, Uber plans to make itself viable to women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men.

Elyas stated,”Female captains will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men.’’

“Captinah’s (female captains) will help us provide easier service to many women who want to move but be driven by women,” he said.

“This means that a new segment of Saudi society that does not use our services will begin (to use it) next June.”

In order to protect privacy, Careem has already announced that the female driver option will only be available to female riders or families and a call masking option will block the contact numbers between driver and customer.

Amani Alawwami, 28, a Saudi bank employee in Al Khobar, was among the women who joined the first workshop Careem ran last October.

‘’I want to be there to help when someone is in need of a lift, and it is a beautiful feeling to be among the first female captains in my country”, she stated.

“The first thing that made me think about working for Careem was our great need to drive,” says Alawwami. “As women in Saudi, we need a man for our smallest commuting needs, and the local taxi service is not sufficiently available where I live.”

Alawwami got her driving license while studying in the United Arab Emirates.

Abdullah Al-Mutairi, the spokesperson for the Saudi Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “same regulations governing the licensing of men who work in transportation will be applicable to women.”

“Those regulations include having a valid Saudi driving license and insurance, and being at least 20 years old,” he stated. PTA also plans to hire female drivers in public transport roles “under the condition of (the women) being sufficiently trained to drive vehicles and various means of transportation, including buses.”

“Those duties include transporting female students and teachers who do not wish to drive their own vehicles, and filling other vocational opportunities that require the presence of a woman trained to drive in a qualified and secure way.”

Khalid Abalkhail, the spokesperson for Ministry of Labor and Social Development, told CNN: “Facilities are allowed to let women work night shifts, as long as they do not go beyond the maximum limit of daily working hours and are not kept at their workplace beyond 11 pm.”

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