JEDDAH: A two-day forum targeting 20,000 women and bringing together under one roof all the services related to women driving began on Sunday.
Specialists at the forum expect that lifting the ban on women driving will create more than 50,000 jobs after a year.
The event, titled “You Take the Lead,” was inaugurated at Leylaty Hall by Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
Six bodies related to women’s driving services and facilitation are participating, including the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Media, with the strategic partnership of Traffic Management, the Saudi Committee of Traffic Safety and the Standardization Committee, in addition to automobile dealers, banks, insurance companies and logistical service providers.
The program of the first day of the event included seminars by distinguished speakers discussing the economic effects of Saudi women driving, penalties for obstructing women from driving, how lifting the ban on women driving will create new jobs for women, the negative aspects of depending on expat drivers, and finally the success story of the first Saudi female rally driver.
The prince said that the decisions taken by the Saudi government aim to achieve social justice by enhancing the role of women as they represent half of the community, and are a main component to achieve economic growth according to the strategies set out in Vision 2030.
He called on Saudi women to invest in the great transformations society is witnessing, through active participation and taking advantage of the series of historic decisions issued by the government to support Saudi women. The prince expected that the leadership of women will contribute to providing a large number of job opportunities and help women enter the labor market, achieving one of the pillars of Vision 2030, with is to raise the participation rate of women from 22 to 30 percent.
President of the forum’s organizing company Suhail Al-Tayyar stressed that they work through the forum to raise awareness of the role of women in the country’s economic, social and cultural development, in addition to providing quality services, creating job opportunities, and making the best conditions for women. He also revealed the requirements of women’s leadership as a key partner in the community and the role of car dealers in the provision of facilities and technology in vehicles and accessories for women, as well as the banking and insurance sector services.
The managing editor of Al-Bilad newspaper and Aqra’a magazine, Manal Al-Sherif, spoke about the economic and social disadvantages of depending on expat drivers, and how to deal with them.
When Rasha Imam, the first Saudi rally driver, spoke about her experience and success, she said she was thrilled with the lifting the ban on women driving as she will be able to represent her country in many competitions.
She plans to move forward to participate in Arab and global races, noting that she received a degree in business administration from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and works in the field of marketing and public relations. She has benefited from traveling abroad with her family to learn to drive and master a lot of leadership skills.
Basma Khazneh, driving trainer and one of the invited guests at the forum, told Arab News: “When I first came to Saudi Arabia 22 years ago I was shocked that women were not able to drive, and now I am very happy that my dream came true and I can finally drive in Saudi Arabia.
“I already have public and private vehicle driving licenses, and also an international driving license, and I would be very glad to have the chance to train Saudi women.”
Samia Basha, 34, an attendee at the forum, told Arab News: “I am here to look at the offers car dealers are providing for us. I cannot wait to get my license and set off!
“We have waited too long,” she added.