So how this is changing lives for women in the Kingdom?

Starting today, women are permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia.

It’s a huge moment in the history of the country and we at Careem are delighted to be part of this occasion and welcome our new female drivers to the road.

The drivers – referred to as Captainahs – will begin working with Careem from today, starting in the three major cities (Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam) and will soon be in other cities around the country.

Around 70% of Careem’s passengers in the Kingdom are female, and Careem has been particularly beneficial for women who did not have safe and reliable transport before the introduction of the service in Saudi Arabia. In fact, people in Saudi have referred to there being a time before, and a time after Careem, so great has the impact been in enabling women to move around the country without the need to be driven by a male family member.

Amaal Farooq Farahat is one of Careem’s new Captainahs. We asked what it means to her…

“By being able to drive, a lot of the stress and hassle of figuring out in advance how to get from one place to the other will be diminished. I’m from the generation of Saudi women who remember a time before Careem, a time when you have the mobile number of limo drivers on speed dial, or you had to walk significant distances to get a limo off the streets. I remember a time when taking a taxi was considered dangerous and when taxis were driven by Saudi men.

“I grew up in a time when the first Saudi women were protesting not being allowed to drive and were imprisoned for doing so. Our teachers were telling us how deluded and these women were as surely no respectable woman would want to drive.

“I remember a time when I was praying that my daughter would not have to face all the challenges I faced to get to work on time or get to any event that was important. The discussions over women being able to drive has been on and off several time over the years and I’d honestly reached the point where I wondered whether I would witness this change or not. Now, not only do I get to witness it, I am ready for it with my first Saudi driving license.”

Careem recognizes that up until now, the industry has largely ignored women and the potential they might have to earn an income through our platform. It’s been a wake-up call and we are now investing our time and focus into this issue.

“I believe many Saudis – both male and female – still need a lot more positive images of how Saudi women driving improves all our lives,” Amaal adds, “Having the ability for women to work as Careem Captains opens lots of job opportunities for women and supports a lot more women to be out and about without the need for a male guardian.”

This year Careem set up a Women’s Female Captain Committee to tackle this issue and better understand what barriers might exist for a woman wanting to come and drive for us, and to understand what it takes for us to provide a conducive environment for them to flourish.

We applaud the government’s vision for 2030, which will empower growth for the country economically and socially, as the country wants to increase the number of women in the workforce, and we’re glad Careem can be a driving force to make that happen.

Around 2,000 women already having taken part in sessions to be Captainahs from our operational, safety and technology teams. Women will also have opportunities to work as a Captainah trainer in addition to opportunities already available to work at our call centres and offices. Women need to be able to get to work, and we are proud to help them get there.