The Riyadh metro, due to be completed in 2019, could mean greater independence for Saudi women by allowing them to travel without male escorts, Businessweek reported on Friday.
Women would be able to move around the kingdom’s capital without having to rely on a driver, it is a move that would also reduce the city’s heavy reliance on the car as the main mode of transport.
Mobility for women is a big issue in Saudi Arabia, where they are not allowed to drive.
A feature of the new transport system will include special carriages for women and children, separate from men.
The news has already been met with optimism among women in the Gulf kingdom.
“For sure I will use the metro — it will be a major solution for the women problem in our society, since we don't drive,” Alaa Hassan, a female university student in Riyadh, told Reuters.
“I go to my university by minibus, and I pay 2,000 riyals ($535) per month; other classmates who live nearer pay 800 to 1,000. For sure the metro will be cheaper.”
The metro system will include six lines extending 176 kilometers, making it the world’s largest metro currently in development, according to UAE-based Emirates 24/7.
The project is expected to cost $23 billion, almost one-third of Saudi’s defense budget, according to Spiegel International.
In addition to the capital, Saudi Arabia also has subway projects underway in the cities of Mecca and Jeddah.