5 Jun 18

Careem to recruit 10,000 female drivers in Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based ride-hailing provider Careem has said it wants to hire up to 10,000 female drivers in Saudi Arabia. 

The announcement comes as the first 10 Saudi women have obtained their driving license in the desert kingdom on Monday 4 June, just on time for the lifting of the ban on women driving, which was based on a strict interpretation of Islam.

Under the previous rules, women were not allowed to operate a vehicle themselves or travel without a male relative. That last rule notwithstanding, women already form a substantial majority of the clientele of Uber and Careem (80% and 70% respectively), two of the major ride-hailing providers in the country.  

At present, all Careem employees in Saudi Arabia are men. “(Recruiting) female 'captains' will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to be driven by men”, Careem co-founder Abdullah Elyas told CNN.

The company plans to add a 'captinah' button to its app, allowing customers to specifically choose female drivers – but that option will only be available to women and families. 

Uber has also said it will start hiring female drivers in Saudi Arabia, at new facilities reserved for females only. The recruitment drive by the two ride-hailing giants may help bring down the kingdom's unemployment rate, which currently hovers just below 13%.

One important hurdle: current Saudi employment law forbids women to work between sunset and sunrise. It is hoped the law will make an exception for professional women drivers. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs