Women driving 'to create 500,000 jobs in 10 years'



— Saudi businesswomen expect that the lifting of the ban on women driving would create more job opportunities for women as the move will facilitate their employment and will reflect positively on their social life.

Abeer Al-Baluchi said economic projections show that the driving decision will create 500,000 job opportunities in the next 10 years. “Official figures state that Saudi women participation in the labor market does not exceed 22 percent. The Kingdom's Vision 2030 seeks to increase this to 30 percent by 2030,” Baluchi said.

"The general rate of unemployment is 12 percent and the unemployment of women is 33 percent. The government had to restructure the economic and social status of the country to enable more women to join the workforce,” said Baluchi.

The driving freedom, she said, will solve the transportation problem that faces particularly women from middle-income families. The Saudi government has decided to restructure the economic and social situation in order to enhance women's participation in the labor market.

Sharifa Eman Al-Ghalib, another businesswoman, said every Saudi woman now lives a historic moment that has been long awaited. She noted that many Saudi women used to drive outside the country, but their dream of driving in the country has come true during the reign of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

“The driving decision has come along with other women empowerment decisions that are going to transform the life of women in the Kingdom," she said, adding that now women are going to be major participants in the development of the national economy.

"No one expected the Saudi woman to break so many grounds. The Saudi woman is now able to drive a private car, a truck or even a motorcycle. She can now even work as a taxi driver and have an income,” said Al-Ghalib.

Sana Bukhari, an engineer, said the historic decision will reflect positively on car sales and maintenance sectors. “Driving will remove the obstacles that face women employment,” she said.

“A lot of working women have been depending on drivers and taxis or even male members of their families to drive them to work. But now the excuse of not having a driver is no longer a valid one. Women will also be able to save money as hiring foreign driver can take up to SR3,000 a month from her monthly salary,” said Bukhari.

The move is also expected to drop companies spending on the transport of female staff.

Hiba Mudhish, a media person, called on the public to stop mocking women drivers on social media. “Unfortunately some people are opposing the decision and they do not respect the benefits of the decision to the country,” she said.

According to Mudhish, women driving will reduce the recruitment of drivers, protect children who will be dropped by mothers, reduce accidents and crimes. "In addition, it will allow women to work," she said.