Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

Ride-hailing apps in Saudi Arabia recruit female drivers

Female football fans were allowed into a match for the first time after decades of being forbidden Credit AFP Female football fans were allowed into a match for the first time after decades of being forbidden Credit AFP
Kenny Thornton | 13 January, 2018, 03:18

Chauffeur-driven auto booking services, Uber and Careem, are set to recruit female drivers in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom lifted a ban on women driving vehicles in September past year.

In October a year ago the government approved plans to start issuing tourist visas for the country in a bid to boost the tourism sector, develop tourism and heritage services and attractions, and reduce the seasonal nature of worldwide tourism, with tourists overwhelmingly visiting for Hajj and Umrah.

The move to open up stadiums to women for the first time was announced last October.

For the first time Saudi Arabian women will be able to enter a Saudi Arabian stadium to watch a professional game in the Saudi Premier League.

To prepare for the change, the kingdom has designated "family sections" in the stands for women.

The stadiums have been equipped with female prayer rooms, restrooms and separate entrances and parking lots for women spectators, according to AP. "Any decision brings criticism but most people support it".

Female Saudi supporters of Al Ahli attend their teams football match against Al Batin in the Saudi Pro League
Female Saudi supporters of Al Ahli attend their teams football match against Al Batin Credit AFP

The Islamic kingdom has announced a series of reforms initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed Salman since previous year. If a woman is at the stadium with her husband, father or brother, the players will be more excited.

Women will be allowed to watch a football match for the first time today at the Jeddah Pearl Stadium, which has allocated special seats for women and families.

Saudi women tour the vehicle showroom for women in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

The kingdom's stadium had not been built with women in mind, so modifications were made so that they could attend matches.

Women aged 25 and over will now be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia without a chaperone, the country's tourism commission has announced. Police were quoted in local media at the time as saying that security spotted her at the stadium "deliberately disguised" in trousers, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.

This step towards equality seems like an obvious step after last September when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman allowed women to step into a stadium in Riyadh to celebrate the country's national day. But by June of this year, all restrictions on women driving will be lifted in Saudi Arabia. The chauffeurs are also mostly the locals driving their own private cars as cab services.

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