Saudi women are set to pay up to six times more than men for driving lessons as the kingdom prepares to lift its female driving ban, according to reports.
The head of the Saudi Society for Traffic Safety, Abdulhameed Al-Mejel, said the cost of lessons for women will range from SAR2,000-3,000 ($533-800) compared to SAR450 ($120) for men, Arabic publication Al-Watan reported this week.
He said the fees would be proportionate to the quality of lessons, which will be run by specialised female trainers and supervisors.
Around 600 women have so far enrolled in training courses in the kingdom and are being given driving lessons, he indicated.
However, many more have already travelled abroad for lessons or even to obtain licences that can be converted for local use when the driving ban is lifted on June 24,
Saudi’s Directorate General of Traffic last year changed the country’s rules for obtaining a driving licence.
The new system means driving lessons of 30 to 120 hours are mandatory before someone can take a driving test.
The substantial difference in driving costs for male and female lessons has led some women to offer to train their peers for free with an Arabic hashtag translating to #IAmReadyToTrainYou gaining traction on Twitter.
Hanaa Aldhafery told the US version of Elle magazine that she started the hashtag to help girls “learn how to drive perfectly” and due to fears that if women attend training centres without experience they will be charged more.
A one-hour driving less for women in the kingdom can cost up to SAR75 ($20), the publication said.
PwC forecast in a report last month that it expected just 20 per cent of women in Saudi to drive by 2020, despite surveys last year suggesting more than four fifths wanted to get behind the wheel.