At the end of 2017, Saudi Arabia made the waves online after announcing the kingdom's plans to lift the ban on women driving. It seems as though ride-hailing applications, Careem and Uber, are taking the lead with plans to hire their first-ever female drivers.
Both ride-sharing services have, for a long time, been considered the main mode of transportation for women in the kingdom. Saudi women have never been given the opportunity to drive others around. However, that seems to be changing as women will take the driver's seat very soon.
"From the first moment, we announced our willingness to welcome the ladies to work on our platform," Abdullah Elyas, Co-Founder and Chief Privacy Officer at Careem, told CNN.
According to CNN, female users make up 80 percent of Uber's Saudi customer base, whereas 70 percent for Careem.
The announcement comes months after Dubai-based Careem held its first-ever series of recruitment sessions in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, which mainly put a focus on Saudi women who obtained driving licenses abroad.
Careem plans to hire more than 10,000 "female captains" by June 2018, according to CNN.
"Female captains will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men," Elyas says.
Abdullah Al-Mutairi, a spokesperson for the Saudi Public Transport Authority, reassured the public that women drivers will be subject to the "same regulations governing the licensing of men who work in transportation."
"Those regulations include having a valid Saudi driving license and insurance, and being at least 20 years old," Al-Mutairi said.
The investment in ride-hailing apps in the kingdom
In 2016, Saudi Arabia invested $3.5 billion of its sovereign wealth fund in U.S. ride-hailing service Uber.
Within Saudi Arabia alone, Uber has some 130,000 active users.
That same year, the government-controlled Saudi Telecom company said it will invest $100 million in Careem, raising the company's valuation to $1 billion.