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
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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.


Japanese squadron commander gets warm welcome in Jeddah

Prince Mishaal bin Majed receives Rear Admiral Hiroyuki Izumi and accompanied delegation. (SPA)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Japanese squadron commander gets warm welcome in Jeddah

  • Izumi said the Gulf region is important to Japan and it is the third time the squadron has visited Jeddah
  • The sea lanes between the Middle East and Japan were vital to the Japanese economy

JEDDAH: Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed on Monday received the commander of Japanese squadron, Rear Admiral Hiroyuki Izumi, and his accompanying delegation.
During the meeting, they reviewed issues of mutual interest.
Two Japanese naval ships, including the destroyer Makinami, have docked at the Red Sea port of Jeddah on a training mission to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia.
The commander of the Japanese squadron, Rear Admiral Hiroyuki Izumi, said the visit would provide training for crew members and help strengthen relations with the Kingdom.
Izumi said the Gulf region is important to Japan and it is the third time the squadron has visited Jeddah. The last visit was six years ago.
“We would like to share with the Saudi Arabian navy the idea of free and open seas, and contribute together to stabilization of maritime borders,” he said.
The commander said that the sea lanes between the Middle East and Japan were vital to the Japanese economy, with 90 percent of oil bound for Japan passing through the area.