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.


Saudi tourism authority and Louvre Abu Dhabi prepare for biggest masterpieces exhibition

Updated 21 October 2018
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Saudi tourism authority and Louvre Abu Dhabi prepare for biggest masterpieces exhibition

JEDDAH: A joint team of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Natural Heritage (SCTH) and the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum continue their final preparations for the inauguration of the “Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia” exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum. The exhibition’s 15th edition will be its biggest.
The show will be inaugurated under the patronage of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and in the presence of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTH, on Nov. 7. It will continue until Feb. 16, 2019.
The exhibition’s pieces arrived from Riyadh at the Louvre Museum last week, and a joint team from SCTH and the museum will install the pieces in accordance with the museum’s requirements.
In addition to the exhibition’s 466 artifacts, some pieces have been added, reflecting a part of the lifestyles in shared cultural heritage in the Arabian Peninsula, especially those related to the desert, horse and camel riding, falconry and other hunting methods in the desert. The exhibition will also include a stand for the shared cultural heritage between the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
This exhibition is considered one of the most renowned Saudi exhibitions on a global scale, introducing the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula’s cultural heritage to more than five million visitors worldwide.
Over the past eight years and specifically since July 13, 2010, the SCTH has presented 14 acclaimed editions of the exhibition in the most famous museums around the world. The exhibition will present more than 460 artifacts from the National Museum in Riyadh and a number of other museums in the Kingdom.
The exhibition was first presented at the Louvre Museum in Paris, followed by La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona, then Hermitage Museum in Russia and Pergamon Museum in Berlin before moving to the US, where it was presented at the Sackler Museum in Washington, the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
King Salman inaugurated the exhibition at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture — affiliated with Aramco — in Dhahran on Dec. 1, 2016, then approved of presenting the exhibition in Asia. The exhibition was presented at the National Museum in the Chinese Capital, Beijing, and the closing ceremony was sponsored by King Salman and President of China, Xi Jinping, on March 16, 2017.
The exhibition was then organized at the National Museum in the South Korean Capital, Seoul, then at the Japanese National Museum in the capital Tokyo, in addition to organizing it at the National Museum in Riyadh.
The exhibition at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi will be part of exchanging exhibitions and activities between the two brotherly countries that share common history and heritage, in conformity with the UAE’s celebration of the first anniversary of the museum’s opening, and the “Year of Zayed,” which marks 100 years since the birth of the late founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.
Entrance to the exhibition is free with the museum ticket. Visitors can tour the exhibition through a multimedia guide which is available in Arabic, English and French.
For ticket reservations or more information, please visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum’s website: www.louvreabudhabi.ae or call +971 600 565566