Oman’s police force has announced that women will be able to drive taxis and trucks for the first time under a series of new road rules.
Director general of traffic Mohammed bin Awadh Al Rowas said women would be able to drive the two vehicle types without restrictions under efforts to open up employment opportunities.
Earlier this week, the government said it would be banning the recruitment of foreign workers in 10 sectors for six months in order to encourage the employment of Omanis.
The new rights coincide with the introduction of stricter traffic laws including a harsher punishment system that will take away licences if a driver accumulates 12 violation points in a year.
Among the other changes is a new requirement for all passengers in a vehicle to wear seat belts. Passengers in the back were previously not required to under the law.
Car seats will also become mandatory for children under the age of four, with violators facing an OMR10 ($26) fine and a point on their licence and trainee drivers will have to go through a simulated driving test at the Traffic Safety Institute before getting on the road for a test.
In addition the sultanate is revising its rules for issuing licences.
Permanent licences will only be issued to Omanis with 15 years of experience, temporary one-year licences will be introduced for beginners and expatriates will only be granted two-year licences from 10 years previously.
Fines for a series of traffic offences have also been increased, in some cases drastically.
The punishment for parking in a disabled space will rise from OMR10 to OMR50 ($130), driving slowly and causing a traffic jam from OMR10 to OMR15 ($39), parking in an ambulance slot from OMR10 to OMR35 ($91) and being stationary on the right side of the road without a reason from OMR10 to OMR15.
The penalty for parking on the pavement will increase from OMR10 to OMR15, passing on the hard shoulder OMR15 to OMR50 ($130), heavy vehicles passing in non-designed area from OMR10 to OMR50, driving with another licence category from OMR15 to OMR50, driving with export or import plates after the notice period from OMR10 to OMR35 and teaching driving without a licence from OMR10 to OMR35.
The installation of reflective panels on the vehicle will result in a fine of OMR35 from OMR10 previously, covering the face while driving OMR50 from OMR10 and installation equipment to raise engine power and sound will be fined OMR50.
All of the changes will come into effect from March 1.
Oman government taxi service Mwasalat officially began operations last month and would be the likely destination of many female jobseekers.