5,000 women trained at Saudi Driving School

Jeddah, Jun 28 (Arab News): The Saudi Driving School, in partnership with Princess Nourah University (PNU), has trained some 5,000 women, according to the school’s CEO, Abdul Baset Al-Suwaidi.

Al-Suwaidi said: “This came as part of our support for the royal decree (allowing women to drive), and our contribution to helping women in Saudi Arabia.”

“After passing a written test, trainees spend two hours in a simulation lab before they begin the first six-hour practical training phase.”

A trainee, he said, must pass the first phase of practical training to be able to move on to the second phase, which includes 14 hours of training.

“After that, a trainee must pass the road test, in which she learns 18 key driving skills,” said Al-Suwaidi and added: “Once she passes this test, a trainee is ready to hit the road.”

If a trainee fails the road test, she will have to undergo four hours of the second phase’s practical training, he said.

The school examiner and trainer, Abrar Al-Muhaisani, said her tasks included conducting tests after theoretical and practical training, and ensuring that a trainee passed all phases.

Ahlam Al-Thunayan, one of the first women to obtain a Saudi driving license, said: “The royal decree was issued at the right time, and it stems from King Salman’s faith in Saudi women and the importance of empowering them.”

“History is witnessing Saudi women’s achievements, and their contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia on various levels.”

She said: “The leadership’s faith in women’s role indicates that their future contributions will be greater.”

Driver Esra Abdul Rahman Al-Batti said the royal decree “will positively impact the lives of Saudi women and motivate them to be more productive, hence contributing to the Saudi economy’s prosperity and to achieving Vision 2030, which aims to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 30 percent.” She said: “Driving a car isn’t an end, but a means to perform work.”

Driver Hanan Abdullah Al-Arfaj said that the lifting of the driving ban will help women be more independent and improve their role in society, be it through meeting their families’ needs or participating in the labor market.

“I encourage all women to get trained and obtain driving licenses so they can move freely without the need for a driver,” she added.

Women should be prepared for emergencies and other difficult circumstances that require driving a car and acting quickly, she said.