Friday, January 12, 2018

SAUDI ARABIA Sees First Women Being Recruited by Ride Services Like UBER

Vision 2030, the wide-ranging and far-reaching government plan conceptualized by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman to reduce his country’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy, has been cited as a harbinger of change not just economically but socially. One very prominent case of social progress brought about by Vision 2030-related reforms was the green light issued last year to finally allow Saudi women to apply for licenses, therefore finally lifting the last significant obstacle to letting them drive cars. In the wake of this new freedom for Saudi women by 2018, ride-hailing companies have begun recruiting them as drivers.
CNN has it that two companies offering ride-hail services, local business Careem and global brand Uber, have started initiatives to bolster their original all-male driving teams with licensed and certified females. Taking advantage of the scene-changing royal decree giving Saudi women freedom to get behind a wheel, Careem launched a campaign that would certify any Saudi woman with a driver’s license to be able to work in ride-hailing. Training sessions lasting only 90 minutes were opened in major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, where applicants are instructed by female Careem administrators regarding Saudi road laws, customer service and using the Careem app platform.
Uber isn’t about to let Careem, which already operates in 13 countries including Saudi Arabia, to crowd it out of business in the Middle East however. They’ve also begun an intensified female recruiting, where their one-stop-shop Green Light Hubs, originally hiring only males, have been repurposed to scout for women drivers, or “Partners” in Uber parlance (Careem uses the term “Captains”). They’ve also set up “listening sessions” where Saudi women, who comprise 80% of Uber’s Middle-East customers, will be able to have their say in the international company’s local direction.
Another sign of the social progress that comes in light of the recently-granted “right to drive” is the equal treatment being given by the Saudi Public Transport Authority to for-hire drivers of both genders. No female-specific rules are being cooked up for lady drivers; rather, according to SPTA spokesman Abdullah Al-Mutairi, “{The} same regulations governing the licensing of men who work in transportation will be applicable to women.” These include a common minimum age of 20, a valid driver’s license and insurance.
Official Saudi statistics claim that over a million of its citizens are seeking employment. With the license to drive for Saudi women, that number could be knocked down significantly. The Dubai-based Careem service for instance, would like to have 10,000 female Captains answering ride-hails by June this year. At that point, some of the women who are part of Careem’s 70% female customers may be driving for them instead.
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