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Allowing Saudi women to drive will save SR20bn: Official

Saudi women take out an infant trolley from the boot of a car outside a mall in the Saudi capital Riyadh, in this September 27, 2017 photo. (AFP)
MADINAH: Abdullah Ahmed Al-Moghlooth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association (SEA), praised King Salman’s decision to allow women to drive, saying he believes this can save the Kingdom SR20 billion ($5.3 billion) per year.
Expatriate drivers, who now number 1.38 million, are annually paid SR33 billion in the form of salaries by Saudi families. In addition, there are recruitment, iqama and work permit fees that must be paid by the employer for a foreign worker.
There are groups in society such as widows, divorced and single women who cannot pay an expatriate driver’s salary or the accompanying fees, and this move of allowing women to drive can relieve the financial burden on this sector of Saudi society.
In addition, Saudi women will now be able to enter the market as professional drivers, which can also accommodate the country’s cultural considerations about mixing the sexes.
“I believe that this decision approximately saves the Kingdom SR20 billion annually, if it can be assumed that 50 percent of the existing drivers are not needed. Some Saudi families will choose not to recruit new expatriate drivers,” Al-Maghlooth said.
The goals of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 aim to reduce the large number of expatriate workers and hire Saudi citizens.
Al-Moghlooth praised the decree of allowing women to drive as step toward enhancing their rights, and as a social, economic, and legal protection for women.
“This is a wise and positive decision that has dimensions, not only for the freedom of women and to assurance their rights, but it also serve as an economic momentum,” Al-Maghlooth said.

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