The women of Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive cars, which has left them relying heavily on male relatives or drivers to take them to school, stores and even work. So when the Uber app launched in Saudi Arabia in early months of 2014, the impact it created went well beyond the general convenience of this technologically enhanced ride hailing application. The Uber Company has truly made a significant difference in the mobility of the women of Saudi Arabia. In December 2015, the health advocate and entrepreneur, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud hosted 10KSA which is a potentially groundbreaking awareness and education event for breast cancer which brought 10,000 Saudi Women together in the same place for the first time ever in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Uber Company is also a cosponsor of this event and the Princess Reema made sure that a fleet of 2000 cars was on call that day in order to ensure that as many women as possible can attend the event. However the service is already acting as a daily resource for several women in the Kingdom. The general manager of Uber Saudi Arabia, Majed Abukhater has stated that while his office and staff do not keep any data in accordance to the gender of the users, the anecdotal evidence and observations suggest that around 70 to 90 percent of the Uber users in Saudi Arabia are female. Abu Akhter stated that a lot of the users are young women. They have some data which shows that these young women are relying heavily on Uber for their day to day lives and commutes. While the women comprise of only 13 percent of the total workforce of Saudi Arabia, they make a complete 60 percent of the total student population in the colleges, hence this is not an insignificant number of trips daily.
Before the arrival of Uber to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (currently Uber operates in Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah) the women of Saudi Arabia had relied heavily on either private drivers (those who could afford them) or the limo companies which the Uber company now works hand in hand with (for the regulatory reasons, Uber in the Kingdom does not work with any contracted drivers who use their cars. All of the Uber rides go through pre existing companies).
However those women who would want to hire the limo service would have to have wait times of over half an hour. Sometimes these transport companies would also be completely booked. The women who would have no other alternative would literally, in some cases, be completely unable to move around in the city.
Now that a layer of technology has been added on to the existing infrastructure of transport, the women do not have to call many companies just to find a driver. They can now just open the app and get a driver in no time, which is mainly why there has been a growth which is highly visible.
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