Saudi Ara­bia’s next rev­o­lu­tion: Fe­male taxi driv­ers

The Asian Age - - News+ - Anuj Cho­pra

pro­jec­tor screen of last month’s royal de­cree.

An in­struc­tor stood next to the screen, hold­ing up a smart­phone to show the in­ner work­ings of the app.

The firm plans to add a new “Capti­nah” but­ton to the app next June that would al­low cus­tomers to choose women chauf­feurs.

Around 30 women reg­is­tered for the event in Kho­bar. Many ar­rived un­ac­com­pa­nied by men, some­thing not com­monly seen in a coun­try where male “guardians” have ar­bi­trary author­ity to make cru­cial de­ci­sions on be­half of women.

This is a rite of pas­sage for women,” said Sarah Al­gwaiz, direc­tor of the women chauf­feurs pro­gram at Ca­reem, re­fer­ring to the re­form.

“For women to drive their own cars sig­nals au­ton­omy, mo­bil­ity and fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence.”

The Gulf king­dom was the only coun­try in the world to ban women from tak­ing the wheel, and it was seen glob­ally as a sym­bol of re­pres­sion.

The lift­ing of the driv­ing ban has been widely cred­ited to 32-year-old Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, who styles him­self as a mod­erniser in the con­ser­va­tive king­dom, where more than half the pop­u­la­tion is aged un­der 25.

Prince Mo­hammed has cracked down on dis­sent while also show­ing a rare will­ing­ness to tackle en­trenched Saudi taboos such as pro­mot­ing more women in the work­force.

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