Rapid rise in number of women drivers

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Saudi roads are witnessing a rapid increase in the number of women drivers six months after the decision allowing them to drive took effect.
Saudi roads are witnessing a rapid increase in the number of women drivers six months after the decision allowing them to drive took effect.

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH —
Six months after the decision to allow women driving took effect in Saudi Arabia, the number of females obtaining driving licenses are increasing rapidly.

According to information provided by the General Department of Traffic, the total number of licenses issued reached more than 40,000.

Most of the women interviewed by Al-Madina newspaper expressed their happiness over their driving experience and thanked the community for all-out support. They said there were very minor and isolated incidents where women faced harassment while driving, but the overall success of the experience eliminated all their fears.

Iman Kanani said her experience in driving was excellent. She is happy that now she can run her own errand without relying on a driver. “I managed to save a lot of money in wages of drivers. I managed to save huge amounts that I used to pay for private taxi. It reached hundreds of riyals in peak hours. I no longer need to recruit a driver from abroad paying a large amount of money, and then pay for his monthly salary and housing,” she said.

“Society accepted women driving but there are a few people who still do not accept the idea. I faced such situations where I was harassed on the road. But such people will not last in front of the very tough laws that are implemented to protect women,” Kanani said.

Nouf Al-Muhammadi, another Saudi woman, said she never faced any difficulty after she began driving. She said she was in desperate need to drive. “We live in a village near Khulais. We lack many services and I needed a car so I can run my errands especially in the morning when men in the family are at work and they are not available. Now that I am driving, I can do it myself,” she added.

Maha Abu Shaheen, a university student, said at first she was afraid of facing harassment on the street. But after she went through the experience, she found support on the street. “There are mothers who drive their children to school every day in the morning. I find people on the street who express their support when they see me driving. There are tough laws imposed to protect women drivers and they will leave no room for harassers,” said Shaheen.

Reham Al-Talhawi said she heard that women will be taken advantage of because of their lack of experience when it comes to cars, whether in sales or in maintenance, but reality showed that it was not true. “Our husbands have experience and they guide us when it comes to such issues. I personally did not face any situation where I was harassed or taken advantage of,” said Al-Talhawi.

Gen. Muhammad Al-Bassami, head of the traffic department, said more than 40,000 women received their driving licenses so far.

While speaking at a meeting of traffic department officials recently, he described women driving as a unique experience. He said there are 14 driving schools currently under construction.

Over 40,000 females obtained license in six months


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