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.

License for women to drive trucks, motorcycles

As the weeks pass and the time approaches for Saudi and other women living in Saudi Arabia to begin driving legally, word has come out that women will be able to drive trucks and motorcycles too.  Non-Saudi women with international drivers licenses will be able to take to the wheel for up to a year from the date the new law goes into effect in June, 2018.

A link to a December 17, 2017 story from the Saudi Gazette is here and the text is pasted in below. Note: rural women in Saudi Arabia have driven trucks and cars for years, where there families and local communities long supported it.


JEDDAH — Women will be allowed to drive trucks as long as they comply with traffic regulations, the General Directorate of Traffic announced on Friday.

Women will also get licenses to ride motorcycles as per a Royal decree announced in September, which comes into effect in June 2018.

The General Directorate of Traffic stated that women with international driving licenses will be allowed to drive in the Kingdom without the need to go to local driving schools.

Women with licenses from Gulf countries can convert these to Saudi licenses.

Women visiting the Kingdom with international driving licenses will also be able to drive for one year before needing to apply for a Saudi license.

If an international driving license expires in less than a year from the date a Saudi woman arrives in the Kingdom, she will need a Saudi driving license before the expiry of her international license.

The General Directorate of Traffic said it complies with strict anti-harassment laws that will not tolerate any harassment of female drivers.

Women will be employed at different traffic checkpoints. The General Directorate of Traffic will also recruit women field inspectors.

The directorate has also cooperated with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to make arrangements for women who violate traffic laws to be detained at women care centers.

There will be no discrimination between men and women when it comes to implementing traffic laws and regulations.

Licenses to drive vehicles in private and secured areas are granted at the age of 18 and licenses to drive in public areas and to operate public service vehicles are granted at the age of 20.

In a historic decision, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Sept. 26, 2017, issued orders to grant driving licenses to women in the Kingdom.

The Royal order will come into force on June 24, 2018.

The King directed Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif to constitute a high-level ministerial committee to carry out studies about the necessary arrangements to implement the Royal decree.

The committee will comprise representatives of the ministries of interior, finance and labor and social development.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SR11.6 million ($3.1 million) spent by Saudi women to obtain driving licenses in three countries

The December 6, 2017 Arab News reported the following. A link to the story is here  and the text is below.

 JEDDAH: (December 6, 2017) Saudi daily Al-Watan, according to its sources, said that the number of driving licenses obtained by Saudi women from the UAE, Bahrain and Jordan has reached 7,550 licenses with a total cost of SR11.627 million ($3.1 million) — or SR1,540 for each license.
The women obtained their licenses after attending training courses for 22 hours, as well as passing compulsory tests.
Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University (IMSIU) in Riyadh organized the first forum on women’s driving, with female members of the Shoura Council, to discuss the importance of driving for women. The forum will be followed by workshops at the university to educate female students and raise their awareness about driving.
The decision to allow women to drive in the Kingdom will come into effect in June 2018.
The spokesman for (IMSIU), Ahmed Al-Rakban, told Al-Watan: “We appreciate what the university has been doing for women who will start driving next year. An agreement has been signed between the university and the General Department of Traffic in this respect, and the director general of traffic visited the university and discussed the issue with many engineering and safety specialists,” Al-Rakban said.
Al-Rakban also noted that driving schools for women have been established at many universities, and there may be other schools outside universities to enable female students and staff to easily get their driving licenses.
To obtain a driving license in the Kingdom, applicants should:
• Be at least 18 years old for a private license/20 years old for a public license
• Have no drug-related convictions
• Be healthy
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the prescribed fees
• Have legal residence in the Kingdom (for non-Saudis)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Saudi to Deploy Female Officers for Women Involved in Road Accidents

This story is a bit stale - from October 22, 2017. One of many stories coming out now about the logistics of women starting to drive officially in Saudi Arabia next year. It was originally published in the Arab News, but I'm reprinting from Al-Bawaba. A link to the story is here and it's printed below:

Arrangements are being made by the General Traffic Department to deploy women officials to attend to Saudi women drivers involved in road accidents.
The arrangements are being made in view of the recent royal order issued by King Salman on issuing driving licenses to men and women alike.
In a statement, Najm for Insurance Services Co. announced its readiness to support the implementation of the royal decree by initiating a customized program that highlights the role of Saudi women in managing traffic accidents.
As per the directions of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the General Traffic Department and Najm will develop a process of accommodating and serving Saudi females involved in road accidents and helping them finalize the required legal procedures.
The statement added that since its establishment, Najm has been keen to support the development process in Saudi Arabia, now working in line with Vision 2030.
 Najm, through its operational strategy, is continuously developing its services by applying an integrated solutions framework and utilizing digital services to meet the demands of their clients to ensure a quick response.