Cars, apps and driving schools — Saudi women drivers targeted as new market

Saudi women check a car at an automobile stand in Jeddah. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2017
0

Cars, apps and driving schools — Saudi women drivers targeted as new market

BEIRUT: Ride-sharing apps, carmakers, and driving schools are targeting their newest market — Saudi Arabian women — wasting no time after the Kingdom lifted its ban on women drivers last month.
Ride-hailing service, Uber, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday it was aiming to recruit female training drivers for Saudi women who want to work for Uber by the end of the year.
The company will open its first ever “female partner support center” to be on hand to support women drivers.
“We want to do a dedicated center for females who want to be on the platform as drivers in Saudi Arabia,” Shaden Abdellatif, Uber spokeswoman for the Middle East and North Africa, said by phone from Cairo.
In a royal decree issued on Sept. 26, Saudi King Salman ordered an end by next year to the ban on women drivers.
The decision is expected to push women into the workforce and boost car sales. Uber said it wanted to be a part of the “progressive changes.”
“Your car can essentially be your small business (which) will be quite appealing for women there — it’s that idea of part-time work opportunity,” said Abdellatif.
Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, an all-female school in Riyadh, announced on Twitter after the news broke that it will set up a driving school for women, a first in the country.
Carmakers were also quick to welcome the royal decree — that ordered new rules allowing women to drive be drawn up within 30 days and implemented by June 2018.
“Congratulations to all Saudi women who will now be able to drive,” Nissan said in a Twitter post depicting a license plate bearing the registration “2018 GRL.” BMW, whose X5 SUV is the group’s Middle East top-seller, also saluted the move.
The arrival of women drivers could lift Saudi car sales by 15-20 percent annually, leading forecaster LMC Automotive predicts, as the Kingdom’s “car density” of 220 vehicles per 1,000 adults rises to about 300 in 2025, closing the gap with the UAE.
However, the rule change could spell bad news for some of the 1.3 million men employed as chauffeurs in the Kingdom, including a large share of its migrant workforce.


Members of a Riyadh firm visit hospitals to help bring happiness during the holiday

Officials from the ‘Hospitality Board’ and ‘Smile’ celebrated Eid Al-Fitr with orphans in Riyadh.
Updated 36 min 6 sec ago
0

Members of a Riyadh firm visit hospitals to help bring happiness during the holiday

  • “We wish to continue with such visits consistently between Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha”
  • Week-long festivities to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr mesmerized Riyadh residents with a fireworks display that lit up the sky over the capital, folklore presentations and traditional dance performances

RIYADH: It was like a dream came true for orphans at the rehabilitation center run by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and for the patients at hospitals in Riyadh as a private firm turned up to celebrate Eid festivities with them.

Hospitality Board (HB), a Riyadh-based company in the food and consumer staples retailing sector, visited patients at different hospitals and distributed gifts for Eid Al-Fitr.
The team, headed by public relations manager Waddah Omran, visited as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility program.
“A day spent with patients undergoing treatment at the King Khalid Hospital of the King Saud University by the HB members meant a lot to those suffering from different medical ailments, as it relieved the pain for the day to make them smile,” Omran told Arab News on Wednesday.
“It came as part of our corporate social responsibilities; we visited the patients and spent quality time with them, sharing lighter moments and distributing gifts to them,” he said.
“We wish to continue with such visits consistently between Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha,” Omran said.
He said that the patient care included celebrating with them, especially children, and having fun with them, and providing free food, gifts and balloons.
He said that HB executive managers Mutlaq Al-Rasheed, Faisal Al-Saif and CEO Hamdan Al-Badr joined in the visit and were happy to share the moment with the orphans and patients.
Ferial, a hospital staff member from the social department, said: “We appreciate HB’s continuous and generous support to our activities at the hospital.”
Omran said that besides visiting the hospital, HB invited 20 orphans and disabled from the rehabilitation center of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, giving them the opportunity to enjoy a lunch and have fun with their supervisors and the HB team.
They were also joined by Dr. Mohammed Al-Saadoon, the founder of the “Smile” volunteering team. Al- Saadoon expressed his happiness at joining in. “We at Smile are specialized to support kids with cancer. But I have seen today the happiness of these invitees and I appreciate the HB initiatives.”
CEO Hamdan Al-Badr also expressed his pleasure at being there. “We as a local company, and as a part of society, will keep on supporting with all kinds of social initiatives, and will keep playing these roles that we can be involved with,” he said.

Explosion of color
Week-long festivities to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr mesmerized Riyadh residents with a fireworks display that lit up the sky over the capital, folklore presentations and traditional dance performances.
The fireworks display near the Hanging Bridge in Wadi Leban and at the King Fahd Stadium had Riyadh residents spellbound.
Folklore presentations, comedy programs and traditional dance at Okaz Park in Shifa and in the Qasr Al-Hukum area were also popular.
Qasr Al-Hukum covers downtown Dyrah, the Suwaiqah commercial complex, Al-Muaiqiliyah souq, Al-Safah and Imam Muhammad bin Saud Squares, and the Al-Musmak Palace Museum courtyard.
Praising the celebrations, Rabea Al-Joudi, who visited the Wadi Leban site with his family for the fireworks, told Arab News: “It was a memorable moment. What a colorful sight. It was a wonderful experience celebrating Eid Al-Fitr holidays.
“The explosion of colors with the black sky in the backdrop gripped the imagination,” he said.
“The fireworks are so impressive every year that we bring our children to wherever fireworks displays are organized, hoping that they will remember it as a way of making time for them,” said Wadah Al-Omran.
Mohammed Iqbal, who went to Okaz Park with his family, praised the comedy program and traditional dance, saying: “My family really enjoyed the presentations. So did the others there, with loud clapping after performances.”
Earlier, Tariq bin Abdul Aziz Al-Faris, mayor of Riyadh, visited the program sites and praised the “unprecedented response” from participants as well as the public.