Careem Gets Its First Female Driver in Saudi Arabia

The 43-year-old Careem’s ‘Captainah’ learned how to drive in her native Syria; Uber also has a plan to open “one-stop-shop” facilities dedicated to recruiting future female drivers, or “partners”, as the company calls them.

May 17, 2018 (BE2C2) — Dubai-based Careem, the Middle East’s fastest expanding ride-hailing firm has hired Enaam Gazi Al-Aswad as its first female driver in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Enaam was selected from among around 3,000 women looking for employment with the company as the Kingdom prepares to allow women behind the wheel starting June 25. Uber has yet to move on this front.

Uber and Careem hope their recruitment drive of women can support the Saudi government’s efforts to reduce the country’s unemployment rate, which the Saudi General Authority for Statistics estimates to be at 12.8%, according to CNN.

Enaam was chosen to become Careem’s first “captainah” — the female version of the Careem “captain” in Saudi Arabia. Enaam told Arab News at a media event in Dubai that “When the authorities announced in September that women would be allowed to drive, I wanted to be the first and contacted Careem straight away.”

“It is wonderful to think that after all this time we will have the freedom to drive. It will help all of us build the future together in accordance with the Vision 2030 strategy.”

According to the paper, the 43-year-old learnt how to drive in her native country Syria and has a driving license from that country. She expects to get a Saudi license once she will complete 10 hours of driving under new laws. She said, “I already have my own car, a Kia I bought in 2013, and I hope to be able to do the 10 hours of lessons in a few days.”

Enaam has already got all the necessary training from Careem to enable her to become a “captainah”. She was hand-picked by the Dubai-based company soon after last year’s royal decree on women driving. She said,“It is good for women’s career enhancement, and for their social lives. But also I think it is our national duty. It is a job to do for the Kingdom. For a woman on her own, it is a good way to earn a living and pay the bills. My sons are excited and very supportive of me. Careem drivers earn good money, I know. I am telling lots of my female friends to think about it too. I would like to be a guide as well as a driver.”

Ealier, Enaam trained as an airline flight attendant in Saudi Arabia before studying management science at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where she lives. She expects that being a Careem driver will be the stepping stone to a better life for her and her two sons.

Until recently, Saudi women could not drive a car and Saudi Arabia had been the last country in the world in which women were restricted from driving.

Last year in September, King Salman ordered the reform in a royal decree requesting that drivers’ licenses be issued to women who want them and the reform would allow women to drive in the Kingdom.

Uber also has a plan

Uber, according to CNN, has announced plans to open “one-stop-shop” facilities dedicated to recruiting future female drivers, or “partners”, as the company calls them.

“We will partner up with necessary stakeholders to facilitate the paperwork, training access, and access to vehicles, including access to driving schools run by third-party partners,” says Zeid Hreish, Uber’s general manager in Saudi Arabia.

Hreish adds that Uber has also launched “listening sessions” for women in Riyadh, which have been attended by a number of influential figures including the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

The sessions are aimed at “shaping the company’s priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom,” and have addressed topics such as problems women could face when driving.

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