As the largest mover of people in the Kingdom, the ride-hailing app Careem has been preparing for women driving by investing almost $80 million over the past five years in its Saudi operations.
The money has been spent on infrastructure, call centers and affordable on-demand transportation services across the country.
Mudassir Sheikha, CEO of Careem, said the historic moment was set to drive economic and positive social change in the country.
“We created this committee whose basic job was to figure out the changes that we need to make in our platform to make it more open and acceptable to women,” he said.
“We have invested more than $100 million in Saudi Arabia. We are truly excited to be part of this 2030 change. We made a pledge that we will have 20,000 captains (drivers) on our platform by 2020,” Sheikha added.
A video made for the big day also features Captainah (the female version of captain) Enaam Gazi Al-Aswad, Careem’s first female driver in Saudi Arabia, sharing her thoughts on the historic event.
“I’m very glad. Finally, I got my license from Saudi Arabia. I wished a long time ago to have these things in my country. I have freedom now to ride anytime I want to drive … with income! It will help me financially (and) socially to feel alive again, go out to drive, meet people and have income. I think it is a nice opportunity in this life and it is going to be in the history also,” Al-Aswad said.
Careem even set up a women’s captain committee to better understand what barriers might exist for women wanting to drive.
Throughout 2018, $30 million has been invested in Careem’s Saudi operations alone as the company shows its support for Vision 2030.
Careem, which plans to open 100,000 jobs to female drivers in the wake of the decree, said that far from losing business, the company stands to benefit from an energized economy.
“While it’s true that 70 percent of our users in Saudi are female, our success and growth in the country is mainly because we offer a safe, reliable and affordable service,” said Abdulla Elyas, co-founder and chief people officer at Careem.
“When we have more women who are employees and entrepreneurs, and the whole country has increased mobility, the domestic economy gets energized and that’s when transportation services will be in more demand.
“As with the possibility of registering women captains (drivers), we will be able to welcome new female customers who feel more comfortable riding with another female.”