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    A woman drives a car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving (File)

    Female Drivers Help Saudi Arabia's Economy Flourish - Scholars

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    In September 2017, Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving. Last June, the country began issuing driver's licenses to women who now participate on an equal footing with men on the kingdom's roads.

    As economist Saad al Dusri told Sputnik, "these four months during which Saudi women have been driving have contributed to the economic growth of the kingdom."

    "First of all, more women are now working because they no longer depend on transportation. Then, the money that a Saudi family used to pay drivers can now be used for other things. And finally, the money that foreign drivers have been sending to their home countries is now in the kingdom," the expert said.

    READ MORE: Women Can Now Drive Legally in Saudi Arabia

    The economist went on to say that in the first quarter of 2018, the number of drivers in the kingdom had decreased by 28,000 people, and now there are 1,357,228 drivers in the country.

    "In absolute terms, over the past six months, about 327 million Saudi riyals ($86.5 million) were not earned by the country's drivers. Now, car dealers, workshops, insurance companies, and banks receive additional money. The number of drivers, especially those who came to work for a family, will continue to decline. With the development of the Internet and smartphones, Saudis prefer using taxi apps like Uber," Saad al Dusri said.

    According to Fallah al Ahmari, chief sales officer at Al Bayan Motors, car sales have increased. "We are seeing a new 'women's car' market. Ladies choose a car that meets their criteria — it consumes less fuel, guarantees safety and is beautiful. We take into account the wishes of our clients and help them find an ideal car," he told Sputnik.

    A Female Driver: Men Welcomed Us

    Sarah al Wassia is 35; she was one of the first to get a driver's license. "I've had an American driver's license for 18 years. I got it when I was studying for my Master's degree. In Saudi Arabia, I just exchanged the American documents for the local ones. I finally don't have to struggle to look for a driver. Many families are so relieved now as a driver cost them a pretty penny. I am happy that now I can drive; it gives me freedom of movement and I don't depend on a driver and their issues," the woman said.

    "At first, I was worried a lot about how men would behave toward a female driver; but actually I shouldn't have as male drivers have treated us quite well. They support us and help if necessary; they are really polite," Sarah said. In particular, the woman recalled the work of the traffic police. "Inspectors help us a lot and encourage us. If there's an accident on the road, they can quickly solve the problem."

    Sarah al Wassia
    © Photo : Sarah al Wassia
    Sarah al Wassia

    READ MORE: Scholar Explains What Might Come Next as Saudi Arabia Repeals Women Driving Ban

    Saudi Arabian Resident: Driver Has Been Costly

    Saad Al Shamrani, a resident of the kingdom, told Sputnik that he used to pay $530 a month for his driver. "He also had his meals with us and he had a room in our house, with a shower, toilet, and access to the street. Now that he's gone, our life has become more comfortable," he said.

    Views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik


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