Riyadh: In a significant move towards gender equality, women in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are driving public taxis for the first time. According to media reports, the Al-Ahsa governorate in the eastern province of the country witnessed female drivers driving public taxis..
Munira al-Marra, one of the female taxi drivers admitted that she chose this profession because of her innate love for driving.
According to media outlet Al-Ekbariya, Munira has had 30 years of experience in driving which includes pickups and heavy vehicles. She can drive all kinds of vehicles and also does on-site repairs in case of a breakdown, especially in the engine.
A survey conducted by Al-Ekhbariya noted the experiences of female Saudi drivers in choosing this challenging new career. The 500 chosen for the experiment are all part of a project wherein there drive 500 limousines, which served all segments of female society within the kingdom and beyond.
In particular, about half a million women in Al-Ahsa province benefit from the project.
The female drivers also pick up customers to take them to other regions and provinces across the kingdom, especially to Riyadh and Dammam. Their customers include the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as the Al-Ahsa region is close to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Bahrain.
In 2018, for the first time in history, the kingdom allowed women to drive, ending a decades-old ban on women’s driving.
In June this year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that girls who have attained the age of 17 years can obtain a driving permit for vehicles, just like their male peers.
In another step to promote women’s empowerment, Saudi authorities have allowed women to travel without guardian approval and apply for a passport, easing long-standing restrictions on them.
These steps are taken as part of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision 2030 plan to diversify the country’s economy. One of the goals of the program is to increase women’s participation in the labor force to 30 per cent, a goal the Kingdom claims has now been achieved.