Only 20 per cent of women in Saudi Arabia are expected to drive by 2020 but the lifting of the kingdom’s ban will create opportunities for investors, car manufacturers, insurance firms and job seekers, according to a report by professional services firm PwC.
The company said last September’s decision to allow women to drive from June 24 supported many of the objectives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 diversification agenda by creating new jobs for nationals and attracting capital investment to build new road infrastructure.
Other opportunities identified by the company include increasing car sales, insurance revenues and car leasing and the setting up of new women-only driving schools.
Car sales are expected to grow 9 per cent per annum until 2025 following the change as female customers enter the market, it said.
Similarly car leasing is expected to grow 4 per cent from 2017 to 2025 and the motor insurance market is forecast to grow 9 per cent from 2017 to 2020 to reach SAR 30bn ($7.9bn).
PwC said there was an opportunity to increase the number of driving institutions in the kingdom by more than 50 per cent during the same period, creating job opportunities for female instructors.
In total, the company expects there to be three million female drivers in the kingdom by 2020 based on factors including age and income qualification.
“There would be dependencies such as necessary infrastructure and services to support female drivers; for example, women driving instructors, driving schools, licenses issuance, etc,” said PwC Saudi financial services and consulting leader Hala Kudwah.
“However we are mindful of the significance of early successes to fully reap the fruits of this milestone in the women empowerment journey.”
The company’s estimation that 20 per cent of women will drive by 2020 is significantly lower than the percentage indicated in surveys conducted after plans to lift the ban were announced.
Market research firm Kantar TNS said 82 per cent of women were contemplating getting a licence when asked in a survey it released in October.
Of the 217 female residents and citizens polled, 61 per cent saw the decree as a positive step for society, 55 per cent felt a sense of empowerment from the decision and 46 per cent expected better career opportunities.
In terms of car purchases, 60 per cent of respondents intended to buy a car in the next three years and 38 per cent planned to in the next year.
Another survey conducted by Uber and Ipsos found 78 per cent of respondents were likely to get a driving licence after the ban was lifted and 31 per cent were interested in driving as an earnings opportunity.