Coming soon: Saudi women may drive taxis to transport female passengers

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Saudi women may be able to drive taxicabs from June when women in the Kingdom are officially allowed to drive cars, chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) Rumaih Al-Rumaih has said.

The PTA is currently making rules and regulations to enable Saudi women to drive taxicabs that will transport female passengers only, Al-Rumaih told Okaz/Saudi Gazette in an interview.

Ride-hailing app companies Uber and Careem have already announced plans to hire female Saudi drivers.

Careem plans to hire more than 10,000 female captains (drivers) by June 2018, Abdullah Elyas, co-founder and chief privacy officer at Careem, was quoted as saying by CNN. “Female captains will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men,” he said.

Careem has already received thousands of applications from Saudi women interested in becoming drivers, Elyas said.

Uber has also announced plans to open “one-stop-shop” facilities to recruit female drivers, or “partners”, as the company calls them.

“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, told CNN.

Uber will also begin holding “listening sessions” for women in Riyadh designed to help shape the company’s “priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom,” and address social and legal problems women could face when driving. However, female drivers will have no special privileges as far as rules and regulations are concerned.

The same regulations governing the licensing of men who work in transportation will be applicable to women, said PTA spokesman Abdullah Al-Mutairi.

PTA chairman Al-Rumaih said all the car rental offices will be completely localized. These offices were given 45 days to nationalize their jobs by 100 percent.

Al-Rumaih said the authority was closely working with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to complete the nationalization of jobs in the public transport sector.

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