Saudis back ‘life-changing’ reform allowing women to drive, survey reveals

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Saudi women wait for their turn to test a car during a driving workshop for women in the Saudi capital Riyadh on June 21, 2018. (AFP)
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In this June 21, 2018 photo, car saleswoman Maram poses for a photograph inside a Lincoln Continental at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
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In this June 21, 2018 photo, women leave after looking at cars at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
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In this June 21, 2018 photo, Nour Obeid checks a car at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Saudis back ‘life-changing’ reform allowing women to drive, survey reveals

  • A major poll shows an overwhelming majority of Saudis agree with the ground-breaking reform giving women the right to drive.
  • In a poll of Saudi nationals conducted by Arab News/YouGov, 77 percent of Saudis said they agreed with the decision to allow women to drive.

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia’s women prepare to take the driver’s seat and make history, a major poll shows an overwhelming majority of Saudis agree with the ground-breaking reform giving them the right to drive.
In a poll of Saudi nationals conducted by Arab News/YouGov, 77 percent of Saudis said they agreed with the decision to allow women to drive. The results also showed that most Saudi women are eager and ready to start driving.
The survey of more than 500 Saudis showed 82 percent of women and 71 percent of men supported the decision.
A number of women across Saudi Arabia who held international licenses have already been issued with Saudi driving licenses, with numbers expected to rise in future. A report by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimated that up to 150,000 women would get driving licenses in Saudi Arabia annually.
The poll found one of the main reasons for supporting women driving is that it allows more freedom of movement, with 35 percent saying it will provide easier access to employment for women.
According to the poll, lifting the ban on women driving will help to increase female participation in the workforce, as most women who plan to drive will do so in order to get to work.
Another major reason cited was the economic boost, with 42 percent saying that lifting the driving ban will give women more employment opportunities.
The automotive industry can also expect a financial lift with 85 percent of Saudi women planning to buy cars once the ban is lifted.
The transportation industry as well could benefit, as the move will create more jobs for women in the industry. Careem plans to create 100,000 jobs for female drivers. Uber says it will open its first “female partner support center” in Saudi Arabia and recruit women to work for the company.
The reform will help improve equality in society, according to 28 percent of people polled. A third of those polled pointed to an increase in household income due to more women entering the workforce and the fact that families no longer have to pay for drivers.
Four in 10 people agreed that the move is a major step in a series of broad reforms under the banner of Vision 2030.
Two-thirds of women questioned said the decision would transform their lives. In the past, male members of the family had to make time to perform driving- related errands, including driving their spouse, children, parents and family members around. Women can now take on such tasks, which would have a big impact on people’s lives.
However, 23 percent of people polled expressed their discomfort with women driving — the move was more popular with women than men as only 70 percent of males agreed with movement compared with 82 percent of females.
Fifty-four percent of participants feared that it would be unsafe for women to drive, while 36 percent claimed it broke with local cultural traditions.
Other concerns were that it would create too much freedom in society, as there is a belief that a male relative should accompany a woman in public. Some also said that allowing women to drive violates religious teachings.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.