It’s the beginning of a new era in Saudi Arabia – at long last, the ban on women being able to drive has been lifted – leading to both challenges and opportunities ahead. Most women in Saudi Arabia don’t have drivers’ licenses and many haven’t had a chance to take driving lessons. However, there are now four driving schools for women in the country, and two more licensed to open in the near future, though the schools are priced higher for women than for men.
This milestone not only represents a loosening of traditional social restrictions and limits on women’s rights, but also new opportunities to become empowered and more financially independent. In fact, we may be witnessing the beginning of a new industry in a culture that still shuns the socializing of unrelated men and women: ride-hailing services by women, for women. According to Uber, 74 percent of prospective women drivers interviewed say they are only interested in driving female passengers.
While this may seem like a small triumph for women’s rights, it is an important one, and hopefully represents a harbinger of more social change to come.
Judith Wolf, MD