The female drivers - referred to as Captainahs – will work with Careem as part of the company’s ongoing mission to simplify and improve people's lives in Saudi Arabia. Currently driving in three major cities (Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam), plans are afoot to expand to other cities in the Kingdom.
Oh, and the plan is to have 20,000 female Careem drivers in Saudi Arabia by 2020.
There's more to it than just employment opportunities for women, too. About 70 percent of Careem’s passengers in the Kingdom are female. Of course, having more women drivers means safer rides for passengers and a lower risk of harassment.
“We are delighted to welcome these pioneering women to Careem and in line with Careem’s commitment to create job opportunities across the wider Middle East region," says Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha, adding that 2018 "will see a new focus begin on attracting women to sign up to the platform.”
Sheikha adds: “We’ve set a longer-term target of having 20,000 females signed up regionwide by 2020.”
Careem’s gneral manager for Saudi Arabia, Abdulla Elyas, is also pretty excited that women can finally drive, and that the company can hire more women drivers. “Following the announcement in Saudi Arabia in September 2017 that women would soon be allowed to drive, we opened our door to female Captains (Captainahs) and invited them to come and sign up to Careem and receive the initial training. We have been overwhelmed by the response, with some 2,000 women already having taken part in sessions from our operational, safety and technology teams.”
Until now, the industry has largely ignored women in Saudi Arabia, and the potential they have to earn an income through ride-sharing apps like Careem. Earlier this year, Careem set up a Women’s Female Captain Committee to tackle this issue, and better understand the barriers women wanting to drive for a ride-sharing app face.
Says Elyas: “Driving for a ride-hailing company provides the chance to be your own boss, earn an additional income and work your own hours, so it’s particularly geared towards the needs of working mothers. To date, Careem has welcomed women in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan and the UAE, and registered some 2,000 women in Saudi Arabia ahead of the decree coming into effect. We are thrilled to welcome new Captainahs to our Saudi fleet.”
Here's to hoping it becomes normalised indeed.