Saudi student leads new wave of female Uber drivers

23-year-old Shahad Hamad, a part-time Uber driver, hits the streets of Riyadh, navigating her way throughx the Saudi capital. (AN photo)
Updated 16 January 2019

Saudi student leads new wave of female Uber drivers

  • Shahad Hamad is one of the first female cabbies for Uber in the Kingdom
  • Uber recently rolled out a registration portal on its website specifically aimed at Saudi women

RIYADH: A 23-year-old Saudi university student is spearheading a new wave of women taxi drivers in the Kingdom.

Shahad Hamad has become one of the first female cabbies to work for Uber in Saudi Arabia since the lifting of the country’s ban on women driving.

The English translation student has found new self-confidence since taking up her part-time role with Uber in Riyadh.

Talking to Arab News, Shahad said she was looking forward to more women getting behind the wheel and joining her in the taxi ranks.

So far the young driver has received nothing but rave reviews from her passengers and said she “felt ecstatic” about the positive feedback.

“I never would have imagined the amount of support I have received from people. It’s helped me on my journey,” Shahad said. 

“I expected that my generation would be excited to see a young female Uber driver; what I didn’t expect was the older generation to be just as enthusiastic, if not more so. It was a big boost for me when older passengers complimented me on my braveness.”

On the subject of reactions from male passengers, Shahad said: “I’ve never had a problem with any passenger, regardless of their gender. However, male passengers always choose to ride in the back seat, although I did have an Asian passenger who sat in the front with me chatting about my experience.”

Her job has also relieved transport difficulties at her family home. 

“We only had one driver in my family and there was huge pressure and arguments about who went out and when,” she said. “It was a struggle just to go for dinner with friends because of the lack of transport.”

Uber recently rolled out a registration portal on its website specifically aimed at Saudi women. 

The “Masaruky” initiative offers information to women in the country interested in taking up roles as drivers with the company.

The move follows growing interest from Saudi women looking to benefit from the earning opportunities presented to them by becoming taxi drivers.

Uber also wants to help women access affordable transportation.

A spokesman for Uber in the Middle East said hundreds of women had registered on its website and expressed an interest in becoming cab drivers.

“The Masaruky initiative aims to increase the participation of women in the workforce through access to affordable transportation, in addition to increasing their access to flexible economic opportunities through Uber’s technology,” the spokesman added.

As yet, Shahad has not met any other female Uber drivers, but she is encouraging her friends to join her. 

“It’s a fun job. There used to be misconceptions surrounding it. But all I have received so far is positive feedback and support.”

Saudi border guards rescue French passenger from Red Sea cruise ship

Updated 19 April 2019

Saudi border guards rescue French passenger from Red Sea cruise ship

JEDDAH: Saudi border guards rescued a French female tourist on Friday after she broke her leg on board a cruise ship in the Red Sea.
The 85-year-old was aboard the Costa Luminosa off the coast of south-west Saudi Arabia when the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Jeddah received an emergency call from the King Abdulaziz International Airport’s search and rescue center, saying the women needed emergency medical attention.The details of the message was passed to the Saudi Arabia Border Guards.
The border guard’s vessel Al-Lith was sent to meet the cruise ship near Al-Qahma, in the Kingdom’s south-western Asir region.
Lt Col. Misfer Bin Ghanam Al-Qarni, border guards spokesman, said the patient was transferred to Jazan, where she was then taken to Prince Mohammed Bin Nasser Hospital by ambulance.
The Costa Luminosa, which was traveling from Salalah in Oman toward Aqaba in Jordan, continued on its voyage.