JEDDAH: Wusool, a program to help Saudi women in the private sector with transport costs, has been updated to benefit more working women in the Kingdom.
Backed by the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), the program aims to cut the cost of transportation for working women on their trips to and from their workplaces. It supports and empowers women in the workforce throughout the Kingdom.
A new mechanism will help women by providing an 80 percent subsidy for the cost of each trip. For those whose monthly salaries are below SR6,000 ($1,600), a maximum of SR1,100 can be deducted from transportation costs each month. Meanwhile, SR800 per month can be deducted for those whose wages range from SR6,001 to SR8,000, as long as the trip does not exceed 60 km.
The program previously covered a 12-month period for working women, but new changes have expanded it to 24 months. To ensure security and inspire trust in working women, Wusool has partnered with companies that are licensed by the Ministry of Transport.
Reem Aqad, a 24-year-old general manager at a trading company in Jeddah, tried Wusool during the last year.
“It is very helpful. If your trip costs SR50, you can end up paying only SR10,” she told Arab News. “When I tried it, it was a one-year offer that could be arranged the moment you’re registered with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).”
According to Wusool’s website, all women who have not been registered with GOSI for over three years with the same job can apply.
Aqad said that the service was perfect, and when asked to suggest changes, she said she only wished it lasted longer than a year.
The general manager said she used Wusool daily to get to work and back, and described it as easy to use and subscribe to.
“Some would assume because it’s a service that caters to customers during busy work hours that cars would be unavailable, but they’re not. It’s as smooth as ordering an Uber,” she added.
Waad Abdullah, 26, has not tried the service, but has seen it benefit her colleagues at the insurance company where she worked.
“I think it’s very helpful for mothers especially, because of how their schedule would often go against their children’s in the morning,” she told Arab News. “ It also saves up their money to be put into other things like tuition, house supplies and the like.”
Abdullah said her friends at work found it easy to register with the service. “The companies they’re using are also trusted and well known, which helps us feel secure.”
She added: “It’s something that I haven’t heard exists anywhere else in the world. The country is enabling women, giving them the chance to work (for women who can apply at companies to drive other women) and also giving them privileges with such a program, which is really nice.”
Nora Al-Rifai, a 29-year-old who works in human resources, came across Wusool through her job. She made an internal announcement within her workplace to educate women about the program.
“We noticed not many female employees knew about it,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful initiative because due to the nature of our lands, we don’t have many public transportation options. Female employees have to pay unreasonable amounts of money for it and the quality of services and cars sometimes doesn’t match the price.”
An added bonus the program offers women is helping them spend their money on things that are more important, she said.
“I believe it helps in comforting these employees, which reflects positively on their enthusiasm for work and productivity, knowing that they won’t bear the costs from their own salaries and that their government is supporting them,” said Al-Rifai.
Account manager Rania Al-Ghamdi said that the program began a year before the ban was lifted on women driving in the Kingdom. “In a way, it’s been used to support women until they get their licenses, or those who still don’t wish to drive yet.”
She told Arab News: “There’s still a lot of demand on driving schools and many women are still waiting for schools to open up in their regions, or they’re learning and waiting until the demand lessens to apply. This program is for those women who still can’t drive, to support women in the workforce, especially when women’s salaries are considerably lower than men’s.”
Wusool covers 13 regions in the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Makkah, the Eastern Province, Madinah, Tabuk, Asir, Qassim, Hail, Jazan, the Northern Borders, Najran, Al-Jawf and Al-Baha.
The program aims to reduce the burden of transport costs for Saudi women by providing safe, high-quality transportation services in partnership with private taxi companies through licensed applications.
Women can register in the Wusool program on the website wusool.sa.