At the end of June, the Saudi Arabian government finally let women drive cars, lifting the decades-old ban. So what did women do with their newfound freedom? Many got in on the gig economy and signed up to be drivers with a ridehailing app.
More than 2,000 women submitted applications to be drivers with Careem, Uber’s Middle East competitor. The company is reportedly planning to launch a female-only training center in Saudi Arabia later this year to meet the demand. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Careem’s first female drivers have already hit the road, making their first pickups in the Kingdom. It’s an important niche for women to fill in Muslim countries, where some believe women should not be alone in a car with men they are not related to. Female drivers mean women can have a safe ride to work or the grocery store without men frowning at them for flouting tradition.
Driving could be a growth industry for women trying to make a living in the Middle East, as Careem reportedly plans to hire 20,000 women as drivers in the region over the next two years, with women already behind the wheel in UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Palestine.