Jeddah: Approximately four years after the historic decision to allow women to drive cars, the Saudi government has now announced that women will be allowed to ply taxis and become cab drivers. The news was announced by the Saudi General Directorate of Traffic via its Twitter account.
The statement said that women could apply for a "general taxi license" at any of 18 driving schools in cities across the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Jazan, Asir, Najran, Jouf, Hail and Taif. The cost for applying for a license is SR200 ($53), the department said. The move has been welcomed by the public as a step forward for women empowerment.
"As a female, I always had an issue with this topic. I never felt comfortable riding in a taxi on my own with a male driver. At least with Uber and Careem, you get some information about the driver before you get in," artist Latifah Al-Shalhoub told Arab News.
"Most taxi drivers around the world are men, but you do see women drivers in some countries. It is definitely more comfortable to ride with a female driver than a male," she asserted.
Another woman, Translator Aseel Atif, was quoted by Arab News as saying that she would be interested in a career as a cabbie as she loved driving.
Since being granted the right to drive in 2018, a number of careers in the transportation field have opened up to Saudi women, including driving trains, flying planes and even racing cars. That ruling also allowed women to work as drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem.
This includes Saudi Arabia's first female racing driver, Reema Juffali, who is the only woman in the Kingdom to hold a racing license. Juffali, who races in the Formula 4 series, obtained her license the same year a widespread women's agitation ended the ban on women driving. She was also one of the drivers to inaugurate Saudi Arabia's first-ever FIA-certified Grand Prix circuit, the Jeddah Corniche, in December.