Preparations under way in Saudi to issue driving licenses to women

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JEDDAH — The Directorate General of Traffic is making preparations to announce the rules and regulations for issuing driving license to women shortly.

The move comes after a royal decree allowing women to drive from June 24, 2018.

The Traffic Department held a meeting last week with the participation of senior officials from relevant departments who presented their ideas and proposals to ensure smooth driving for women in the country on the basis of the executive bylaw and traffic rules and regulations.

Participants included representatives from the interior, finance, and labor and social development ministries.

They also discussed preparations to provide driving lessons to women.

The proposals included the launch of a website under the Traffic Department to provide lessons on driving and traffic regulations. The website will teach them about vehicle parts.

Women will be asked to join driving schools. They will also be briefed on the steps to be followed to receive driving licenses.

Turki Al-Sayyed, a driving school manager in Rabigh, said there is a plan to organize lectures to teach women traffic regulations and basic principles of driving.

With a female population of 14.8 million, experts see a market for driving schools for women. It will also require the hiring of additional female staff and trainers.

Ahmed Fadhil, sales representative of an international automobile company in Jeddah, said many women have started purchasing cars after the royal decree.

Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of vehicles and parts in the region, and ranks 21st out of the 198 global auto markets, according to LMC Automotive.

The decree means there will be a lot of new potential customers behind the wheel for car companies to woo.

According to some estimates, the royal decree will put 9 million potential new drivers on the road, including 2.7 million resident non-Saudi women.

A 2017 labor survey released by the Saudi General Authority for Statistics said about 1.3 million foreigners were hired as drivers, accounting for roughly 60% of foreign domestic workers in the country. But much of that money would never stay in Saudi Arabia.

The remittances from drivers alone reach almost $4 billion.

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