March 21, 2018

Saudi women enter stadiums for first time to watch football

13 January 2018, 03:18 | Taylor George

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According to reports on CNN, out of the entire rider base in the ultraconservative Kingdom, almost 80 percent of Uber's customers are female and 70% of Careem's riders are female.

Driving schools for women are expected to open in March so that the first female drivers will be ready to get their licenses as soon as the band comes off.

Careem operates in 13 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan and is valued at around $1 billion.

It trains them in Saudi road law and how to use the company's platform.

"From the first moment, we announced our willingness to welcome the ladies to work on our platform", says Abdullah Elyas, co-founder and chief privacy officer at Careem, over email. "They have not yet realised they will be cheering their favourite team inside the stadium", he said. Similar facilities already exist for male employees.

"It's great that Saudi authorities are declaring that they want to take on the scourge of corruption, but the right way to do that is through diligent judicial investigations against actual wrongdoing, not sensationalistic mass arrests to a luxury hotel", Right Watch official Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement.

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These efforts are part of broader reforms he is leading to restructure the Saudi economy away from its dependence on oil, temper the kingdom's religious rhetoric and provide new employment and entertainment options for the kingdom's large youth population, including women.

It was also reported that the company is planning to open more vehicle showrooms specifically catered to women in the kingdom.

The ride-hailing app, which has a women-majority Saudi clientele, is now looking to recruit female drivers in the kingdom. "I asked myself repeatedly 'Why I can't go?'" she told AFP. "I want to be there to help when someone is in need of a lift, and it is a attractive feeling to be among the first female captains in my country".

It is one of three games that Saudi authorities said women would be allowed to attend this month.

Careem chose to recruit female cabbies soon after the announcement was made as they launched a 90-minutes training session in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar to bring in more female drivers.

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