Uber to offer Saudi voters free rides during municipal elections

Saudi women board a taxi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (AP)

Saudi citizens casting votes in the municipal council elections on Dec. 12 will enjoy a free ride as part of a charitable initiative launched by Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women in collaboration with the famous car service app Uber.

Citizens can go to and from election centers using the Uber app, which operates in Jeddah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province.

“There is no doubt that any successful social cause needs effective and substantial cooperation from all parties whether government entities, private organizations or charitable societies”, says Rasha Al-Turki, CEO of Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society, describing the partnership as “mutually beneficial and that will yield great results”.

“We want to facilitate the voting process on the Election Day as part of our role in serving the community,” says Sheikha Al-Sudairy, chief projects officer at Al-Nahda. “Transportation is one major obstacle for both men and women since it can be expensive.”

She further said: “We noticed that Uber was actively involved in charitable causes all over the world so we contacted Uber about the idea and they were immediately receptive.”

General Manager of Uber Saudi Arabia Majed Abu Khater stated: “Upon reviewing the municipal elections program and Al-Nahda’s role in the awareness, education, and training of citizens, we concluded that it is our duty as an organization to support Saudi men and women in successfully participating in development of their society.”

Abu Khater said the app users only need to enter a code and a car will pick them up free of charge.

This month, Saudi women will be able to vote or run for office in the municipal elections for the first time in history. So far, more than 900 women are running for the public office.

The initiative comes as part of a series of awareness campaigns throughout the year run by Al-Nahda on the importance of voting in the municipal elections in the Saudi Arabia, now entering its third round.

The non-profit organization has posted information about the voting process online and has been promoting voter participation by posting on social media, including an entertaining video informing citizens how to vote under the slogan: “Your vote counts”.

When asked about Al-Nahda’s organizational goal in empowering women and the relationship in this initiative, Al-Sudairy said, “Al-Nahda usually focuses mainly on women but it’s more effective to raise awareness by reaching out to both genders in society”.

Training and educating citizens about the voting process in awareness campaigns and in media outlets has been Al-Nahda’s focus during the election campaigns.

A leading charitable organization in Saudi Arabia, Al-Nahda focuses on developing women economically, socially, financially in addition to promoting jobs. Throughout the years, the 53-year-old charitable organization has aimed to empower women and address various social issues.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 8, 2015.

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