Move over, cabbies ... women drivers joining taxi ranks in Oman!

Omani women have long voiced concerns over the lack of female-driven taxis.
Updated 02 February 2018
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Move over, cabbies ... women drivers joining taxi ranks in Oman!

LONDON: Oman is the latest country in the Middle East to offer female passengers access to a women-only taxi service. The news comes as part of a shake-up of the Sultanate’s road regulations announced on Monday.
The new rules, taking effect from March 1, will also allow women to drive heavy goods vehicles as part of “the government’s drive to give women equal business and employment rights,” a statement from the Omani traffic police said.
They come with a package of transport reforms to improve conditions on Oman’s roads, including stricter punishments for traffic violations, a new requirement for all passengers to wear seat belts and mandatory car seats for children under the age of four.
Women in Oman have long voiced concerns over the lack of female-driven taxis, citing safety fears, particularly when traveling alone with male drivers.
Many welcomed the move. “The decision came as a good surprise … people had been asking when will Oman have female-driven taxis,” Omani journalist Fatma Al-Arimi told Arab News.
Writing on Facebook in response to the news, Shanta Ram Gannavarapu: said “It’s good news for unemployed Omani ladies.”
Others emphasized the employment opportunities created by increasing women’s access to safe transport.
The Times of Oman quoted one woman living in Ruwi, Muscat who said, “Ladies who don’t have a license avoid taxis because of the lack of safety. I will start using taxis if women-only taxis are introduced.”
Al-Arimi said that many women already operated their vehicles as taxis under the radar. “From a women’s point of view, the decision legalizes a practice (that’s already) in place.
“Women have always been allowed to drive, but now this decision gives them more chance to make some money as well.”
Many men also welcomed the news. “The male society looks at these taxis as better alternatives to having a man driving their sisters and daughters,” she said.
The new women-driven taxis will be painted pink, blue and white to differentiate them from the traditional orange and white cabs.
The announcement follows a ruling in Saudi Arabia last year to lift the ban on female drivers. Ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem have both announced plans to bring female drivers on board in Saudi Arabia when the ruling comes into effect this June.
Women account for 80 percent of Uber’s client base in the Kingdom and 70 percent of Careem clientele.
Dubai was one of the first cities in the Gulf to introduce female taxi drivers with the “Ladies Taxi” in 2007 for women landing at the airport late at night. In 2010, Abu Dhabi launched a fleet of 70 cars exclusively for women and children and two years later Sharjah followed with a women’s dispatch taxi service to cater for women and families.
Egypt also has women-driven taxis and in 2015 a limo startup launched a new service billed as the safe solution for female travel in a country where 99.3 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment, according to UN figures.
In Jordan, where women account for about 20 percent of drivers according to national traffic department statistics, a local taxi company operates a small fleet of 10 female-driven cabs.


Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a disaster

Updated 18 September 2019

Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a disaster

  • Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous concern.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that if Israel went ahead with the idea of annexing all the settlements in the West Bank it would be a “disaster” for attempts to find any two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abdullah said he was “extremely concerned” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex all the West Bank settlements.

He said it will “directly impact” the relationship between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt, and that “these types of statements are ... a disaster to any attempt to move forward to the two-state solution.”

Merkel agreed, calling Netanyahu’s vow “unhelpful.” The German government backs an internationally negotiated peace solution in the sense of a two state solution ... annexations are always detrimental to peace solutions. They do not help and therefore we do not agree, said Merkel

Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous concern.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Netanyahu’s career was on the line on Tuesday as Israel held its second national election this year, with voters deciding whether to give him another term in office despite a likely indictment on corruption charges.

The longest serving leader in Israeli history was seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and fifth overall. 

But he faced a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. 

Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.