MAKKAH: Saudi transport chiefs have launched a campaign to recruit 20,000 Saudi drivers to replace expatriates working for Uber, Careem and the Kingdom’s other taxi-app services.
The number of Saudis driving taxis had risen from 100,000 to more than 600,000 since 2016, and the sector was now ready for Saudization, Majed Al-Zahrani of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) told Arab News.
The job had become particularly popular among women since the ban on them driving in the Kingdom was lifted in June 2018, Al-Zahrani said. “The number of female Saudi drivers working at these applications has reached 2,000, and the number is rising because of the good income and the safe work environment,” he said.
The PTA and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will work together to ensure the implementation of the Saudization regulations. Any driver found to be working illegally faces a fine of SR5,000 ($1,333).
The surge in the number of women driving taxis came as no surprise to Kariman Khaled Al-Ghamdi, who drives for Careem. “Saudi families constantly request women drivers,” she told Arab News.
Al-Ghamdi worked in human resources at a telecommunications company, retired at 46, and sought another job to boost her income. With driver’s licenses from the US and Kuwait as well as Saudi Arabia, and having lived abroad, she knew she was ideally suited to the work.
Jamilah Al-Mahmoudi, from Makkah, joined Uber seven months ago, and has never looked back.
“I got rid of the financial burden of hiring a driver, and now I drive pilgrims and visitors inside Makkah, which I enjoy,” she said.