Saudi women seeking driver jobs to face tough restrictions

Female drivers will be fined if a male passenger sits in the front seat



Saudi women looking to work as chauffeurs when the kingdom lifts its female driving ban next month will face tough restrictions, according to reports.

The country’s Public Transport Ministry has issued new bylaws governing family transportation services offered by female drivers, Arabic newspaper Al-Madina reported on Sunday.

Among the rules are that female drivers cannot serve male-only groups of passengers and even if a woman is present they cannot accept the trip should a male or child be sat in the front seat.

They will also be unable to work as a driver in cities other than where their licence was issued.

Women drivers will face a fine of SAR5,000 ($1,333) for providing transport to a group that does not include an adult female passenger and SAR500 ($133) for driving in a city other than where their licence is issued.

The fine for a male passenger or child being in the front seat is SAR2,000 ($533).

Vehicles can only be used for family transport if they have at least seven seats, air conditioning, meet colour and appearance requirements and are not more than five years old.

They must also have a GPS tracker, ID screen and electronic payment machine.

The kingdom’s female driving ban is set to be lifted on June 24.

Ride hailing services Careem and Uber have announced plans to hire tens of thousands of female drivers but will be unable to do so unless regulation is in place.

Read: Saudi women may be able to drive taxis from June

The kingdom previously banned taxi and ride companies from employing non-Saudis and the same rules will apply for women.

Read: Saudi says 150,000+ jobs created by barring foreigners from ride app roles

The fine for a non-Saudi woman acting as a driver is SAR5,000 under the new bylaws.

Allowing women to drive is expected to lead to a sharp fall in demand for foreign drivers, who would traditionally be hired by families to transport women and children.

Read: Saudi demand for foreign drivers expected to decline 40%