Decision to drive intended to demonstrate to society that women can be good and dependable drivers
Jeddah: Riem Farahat, one of Careem’s first female drivers, picks up her first passenger from a local coffee shop in Jeddah.
“She was so excited and happy to see a female driver. She asked if she could sit in the front with me,” said the 41-year-old Careem driver told Gulf News.
Since the female driving ban was lifted in June, the ride-hailing app, now has around 2,000 registered female drivers—referred to as ‘Captiainahs’.
The company plans to hire another 20,000 by 2020.
Farahat, who obtained her Saudi drivers licence based on her American license, describes herself as a “safe and dependable” driver. In her 24 years of driving experience abroad, she has only one speeding ticket to her name.
A life coach and quality management consultant by profession, Riem decided to become a captainah because “I wanted to show women and society that being a captainah is a respectable job with a good source of income.
“It’s such an honour to be among the first wave of female drivers, and Careem allows me to celebrate this milestone whilst encouraging others to apply and become a captainah,” she said.
Farahat’s sister Amal is also a Careem captainah.
She had a comfortable day job but said she was inspired to apply to become a driver after users on social media began mocking female drivers.
“I wanted to change the mindset of people to show them that Saudi women can be good drivers and could even juggle two jobs,” she told Gulf News.
The sisters are able to work around their day-job schedule based on their convenience—typically five days a week.
Amal says the response so far has been very positive based on feedback from her customers.
“The female passengers are really happy to see me and the male passengers are very inquisitive and curious, they ask me a lot of questions,” Amal says.
There is no law against female drivers picking up male customers.
The sisters also say their families have been incredibly supportive and understanding of how their job contributes to “changing people’s perspective on female drivers.”
Careem caters to 2 million riders in Saudi Arabia every year, 70 per cent of which are women.