10 questions answered for female drivers in Saudi Arabia

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Effat University in Jeddah collaborated with Ford Motor Company to train Saudi women to drive under a special “Driving Skills for Life" program. (Supplied photo)
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Effat University in Jeddah collaborated with Ford Motor Company to train Saudi women to drive under a special “Driving Skills for Life" program. (Supplied photo)
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Effat University in Jeddah collaborated with Ford Motor Company to train Saudi women to drive under a special “Driving Skills for Life" program. (Supplied photo)
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Effat University in Jeddah collaborated with Ford Motor Company to train Saudi women to drive under a special “Driving Skills for Life" program. (Supplied photo)
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Effat University in Jeddah collaborated with Ford Motor Company to train Saudi women to drive under a special “Driving Skills for Life" program. (Supplied photo)
Updated 23 June 2018
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10 questions answered for female drivers in Saudi Arabia

What is the driving age? And what kind of vehicles are women permitted to drive? 

The Supreme Decree stipulates that the application of the Traffic Regulations and its Executive Regulations shall apply to both women and men. The driving age is 18 for the private driving license, which applies to all types of vehicles including motorbikes. There are exceptions for those reaching 17. They will be granted a temporary permit for no more than one year. Women will be allowed to drive trucks once the necessary conditions have been met for that purpose. The driving age is 20 for public driving licenses and public works vehicles.

 

What happens if you already have an international license? 

Article 37 of the Traffic Regulations Act excludes those who have international and foreign driving licenses from the driving test as long as it is effective. It is also possible for women visiting Saudi Arabia to drive with their international and foreign-recognized driving license for one year from the date of entry or until the expiry of their permit, whichever is earlier based on Article 42.

 

Can women from abroad rent a car and drive? 

Women with international/GCC visas should be able to easily rent a car as long as their license is valid. “We accept international visas in all our branches as long as it is valid and the same goes for women,” said Hattan Madani, a customer service employee at Budget told Arab News. Note that not all car rentals provide this option: only Budget and Key for car rental. The rest insist that women must have a Saudi license.

 

How many will be registered to drive at first? 

The auto industry has estimated that there are 9 million potential new customers in the Saudi female population who will be eligible to drive. According to the London-based consulting firm Facts Global Energy, about 6 million are expected to apply for a license.

 

 

Where do you go to get your driving license and what do the tests involve?  

Those wishing to get a driver's license must take six steps and comply with certain terms and conditions:

Step 1: Register through the "Abshar" portal, fill out the application form and pay the fees incurred in issuing the license, as well as pass the driving test.

Step 2: Pass the driving test on Qyadati.com.

Step 3: Schedule an appointment for the training program after paying the program fee from the previous website.

Step 4: Attend and take the theoretical training. The theoretical training consists of workshops and lectures of eight hours, the driving simulator for half an hour.

Step 5: Prepare for a practical training period consisting of 12 hours of training in the field, 11 hours in the city and highways and one hour for training and preparation to test for the license.

Step 6: Pass the test under the supervision of traffic police.

 

Where can you go to school to learn to drive? 

Five Saudi universities have launched driving schools for women: Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University and Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Tabuk University and Taif University.  

The Saudi Driving School, at Princess Nourah University, the first for women in the capital, was launched in partnership with the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, an established driving school in the region.

Effat University collaborated with Ford Motor Company to assist Saudi women gain the power of mobility by hosting a special “Driving Skills for Life" program.

Based on its award-winning global safe driving initiatives, DSFL has customized an introductory program which focuses on building women’s confidence behind the wheel, expanding their automotive knowledge, preparing them to take their driving lessons and instilling safe driving practices before they tackle public roads.

 

What do the the tests involve?  

According to Effat Saudi Driving School, there are several steps in teaching driving, including theoretical training, which consists of eight lectures, each of which lasts an hour, covering the following topics:

Lecture 1: Attitude and Responsibilities

Lecture 2: Traffic signs

Lecture 3: Managing Risks

Lecture 4: Driver Condition

Lecture 5: Driving Environment

Lecture 6: Rules of the Road

Lecture 7: Anticipating Hazard and Emergencies

Lecture 8: Your Vehicle

Upon the completion of the eight lectures, the basic information acquired by the trainee is tested through the theoretical test. Passing this test is a prerequisite for starting the next phase of training.

Then comes the simulator training, which is conducted using a device that simulates real car driving and consists of all the parts that make up a car interior such as the car seat, steering wheel, dashboard, power switch and safety belt. The passenger is surrounded with screens displaying a virtual reality that simulates a large number of scenarios that the driver may experience in different weather and geographic conditions. The device gives instructions to the passenger in an interactive manner and provides feedback on the driver's skill and also an explanation of the mistakes she made while driving. 

The hands-on training begins in an enclosed field (yard) with no other cars. In this yard, the trainee acquires basic driving skills such as maneuvering the car, different types of parking and other basic driving skills. 

The yard training consists of six hours of training. The trainee is then subjected to an applied test that measures the extent to which these aforementioned skills were acquired during yard training. In the event that the test was not passed, the trainee is required to go through a training hour for each skill that she did not pass before she starts the practical training on the roads. In the event of passing the yard test, the trainee begins training on actual roads. 

 

What happens if you commit a traffic offense? 

There is coordination between the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to use the girls’ care centers as detention centers in the event of a violation that requires arrest or detention.

Violators will also be publicized, according to the traffic regulations.

Having non-insured cars will be considered an offence stipulated in Paragraph (11) of Table (4) with a fine ranging between 100 and 150 riyals.

 

Were women ever permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia? 

Historically, women in rural areas may have driven at one time. At institutes such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Saudi Aramco, women have been issued permits by the special zone’s driving school. 

The driving environment at KAUST is similar to that of European countries or the United States, according to Dr. Aala Abulfaraj, 37, who drives at KAUST, where she is a research scientist in molecular biology and immunology.

 

What are dealerships doing to attract female customers? 

Major players in the auto industry such as Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, General Motors and United Motors Co., which between them boast the authorized rights to sell Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeeps in the Kingdom, have ramped up their advertising and marketing campaigns. Along with establishing a call centre managed exclusively by women to handle finance options and general inquiries, Abdul Latin Jameel Motors, the Japanese group’s authorized Toyota distributor in Saudi Arabia, will be designating showroom lots run by all-female staff.


Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. (Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

  • The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021
  • SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is fast catching up with the world’s ever-growing energy and technology scene ahead of 2030. In fact, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) may soon prove a global destination for energy industry investors.

The new energy city mega-project is being developed by Saudi Aramco, which received authoritization to embark on the initiative in the summer, and is operated, managed and maintained in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON). 

With projections that the megacity will create more than 100,000 jobs, it is considered one of the most up-and-coming energy parks in the world.

SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower.

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. 

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021, while the final phase of the project is set for completion in 2035. With all this on track, the 50-square-kilometer project is poised to be a magnet for foreign and domestic investment. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday. (SPA)

What’s more, Aramco’s espousal of SPARK will also help businesses indulge in technological development, manufacturing and exports channels and build a world-class energy supply chain. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Energy Minister and Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih declared SPARK a special economic zone (SEZ) in which businesses can enjoy exclusive benefits. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

SPARK has already attracted investment from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services. The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion. 

The park is set to attract industrial investors in the water, power, petrochemical and wastewater sectors, among others. 

Facilities at SPARK will also help investors bridge gaps in local production back home, increasing competition in the long run. 

“This energy city is exciting because it brings together a multitude of businesses,” Mark McCollum, president and CEO of Weatherford Corp, told SPARK.

“We firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation among service companies and individual providers to the energy sector is vital in breaking new ground.”

The King Salman Energy Park is also set to promote small and medium-sized enterprises. With focus on energy production, it also provides opportunities for investment in residential and commercial real estate projects.

Nasser said that the “King Salman Energy Park will spur a new era of growth for one of the Kingdom’s already thriving sectors. What’s more, it will serve as a central gateway to the region’s economies since Aramco is at the heart of the global oil and gas industry.”