Women drivers to transform Saudi auto market

A newly-licensed Saudi driver gets out of her car in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia ended its ban on women driving on June 24. (AFP)
Updated 28 August 2018
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Women drivers to transform Saudi auto market

  • The lifting of the ban on women driving has opened up opportunities within the auto market

JEDDAH: Two months have passed since the official lifting of the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The majority of women in Saudi Arabia are planning to drive a car. According to a new survey by YouGov, 24 percent of women have applied for a driving license since June 2018 and 61 percent of women who haven’t applied yet are willing to apply in the future.
However, there are women who are not willing to apply for a driving license. They have several concerns, most of them around safety.
The recently launched government campaign to educate women on driving and safety regulations has not helped many women to overcome their fears.
According to YouGov findings based on an online survey, one in five women do not think that they would be a good driver. And 27 percent of them feel it is dangerous, 24 percent do not know how to drive, and 23 percent believe their husbands/ family members would not allow them to drive.
Aisha Abdellateef, 23, from Jeddah, told Arab News, “I want to learn how to drive. However, I do not prefer to depend on myself totally. It is less stressful when someone else is driving.”
Although Aisha believes she will be an excellent driver, she does not see that traffic and safety regulations are well implemented in Saudi Arabia yet.
Sarah Al-Asta, 26, from Jeddah, is more optimistic: “I believe it is safe to drive, there isn’t much to worry about as we thought before the ban was lifted, probably because there aren’t many new female drivers in the streets yet.”
“However, I think I won’t apply for a driving license any time soon, I will wait until the demand on the driving school is eased, and I hope the costs to get a license decrease too.”
The lifting of the ban on women driving has opened up opportunities within the auto market; 78 percent of women who intend to drive are willing to buy a car.
According to YouGov, the majority of women say the decision of which car to buy rests in their hands.
Nahla Abu Alula, from Jeddah, received her Saudi driving license as soon as the ban was lifted, “I received my first driving license in 2013 from the US when I was a student; it was still valid so I exchanged it with a Saudi one.”
“I was concerned, and a bit afraid to drive at the beginning because of the comments I kept hearing that driving in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, but I found that it is normal,” she said.
“On the contrary, most of the male drivers I came across were welcoming, encouraging, and cooperative. sometimes they would make a thumbs-up gesture with their hands or a victory sign.”


Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

Updated 17 November 2018
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Formula E brings racing-themed roadshow to Jeddah

  • The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah
  • More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show

DUBAI: After a successful run in Khobar last week, Road to Ad Diriyah, a racing-themed entertainment event, is set to visit Jeddah as the country gears up for all-electric street car-racing activities in December.

More than 6,000 motorsport fans stormed to Khobar last week for the road show, which featured racing-themed activities heralding the upcoming 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Dec. 13 to 15, a first-of-its-kind sporting event in the Middle East.

The Jeddah edition opens on Nov. 22, with most of the activities from the previous one, as well as an e-sports competition whose winner will take home SAR 1,000,000.

The ABB FIA Formula E Road to Ad Diriyah e-sports championship allows fans to command a SAR 250,000 professional racing simulator. The 16 best participants will then be invited to Ad Diriyah in December for the grand finals.

The Road to Ad Diriyah will give Jeddah a taste of what the historical three-day festival of racing, live music, culture and entertainment that is set to take place in Ad Diriyah will be like.

Bavaria Zaman, who visited the Khobar show with husband Rashid Khan and kids Nawal, Daiin and Nashin, said: "I think it's fantastic. The kids are running around and having fun."

The upcoming E-Prix is the first in a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).