Last year, news broke that women in Saudi Arabia would finally be allowed to get behind the wheel. This decision was not only made to meet the demands for increasing women’s rights, but there is also a serious economic motive, and here is how women drivers will affect the economy of Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom’s decision to lift the ban on women driving is in line with the goal of increasing women’s participation in the country’s workforce from 22% to 30% over the next 12 years. Within the larger plan of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to reduce the dependence of the national economy on oil sources by 2030.
Giving women a driver’s license and accessing more jobs will increase mobility and unlock a hitherto untapped resource: more women will work, which will increase productivity, income, and economic growth. The inclusion of women in the labor force will also have an effect on youth unemployment, which amounts to 31%, of which young women make up as much as 58%.
There will be growth in the activities of car sales, entertainment, aviation, banking, and retail. Investors’ reputation that the Saudis want to diversify the economy and strengthen the private sector will also be strengthened. Here is how exactly certain sectors of the economy will benefit from allowing women to sit behind the wheel.
The Kingdom is training women to work as air traffic controllers for the first time ever. Air traffic controllers need the skill of multi-tasking, communication, and a good understanding of mathematics and science, which is not difficult to find in women.
As many as 7,000 women applied for the training, and so far only 12 positions have been opened. That number is expected to increase significantly in the future.
Careem is a leading application for providing driving services, modeled on Uber, and they state that they are now looking for 3,000 women drivers who will work and drive within their network.
The availability of female drivers will open a new market segment, and these are women who previously could not use the application to avoid being in a car with a man, due to the limitations of social norms.
In addition to new drivers, Saudi Arabia will get plenty of new cars. It is estimated that by 2020, 3 million women will be behind the wheel, which will increase car sales, rentals, as well as the insurance market.
All those cars will have to be maintained, auto parts will be more in demand, and services are rubbing their hands in satisfaction. Toyota and Hyundai (the most represented brands) will certainly expand the range to include more popular cars among women.
It is also interesting that Europe will benefit since Saudi Arabia actually imports more fuel, so European refineries will increase the volume of work and export fuel to the kingdom.
There is an obvious trend of Saudi women wanting to invest in real estate, due to increased financial literacy. Due to factors such as increased education and the ability to drive, a large number of independent women are expected to own their own real estate.
Saudi Arabia is currently investing $ 64 billion to build entertainment content over the next decade, with the goal of discouraging citizens from traveling. Currently, many citizens travel around the world, and the idea is to keep the money in the kingdom.
Increased mobility of women and greater rights, such as lifting the ban on cinema visits, will increase women’s participation in the consumption of entertainment content and create new opportunities for this industry.
In a male-dominated sector, the kingdom has already made an effort to place women in higher positions. The planned sale of new cars will open a new segment for lending.
Economic facts about women from Saudi Arabia
- About 16% of women are unemployed, compared to 6% globally
- Saudi Arabia ranks 142nd (out of 144) in terms of women’s participation in the economy
- The Kingdom plans to increase the participation of women in leading positions from 1.27% to 5% by 2020
- The lifting of the driving ban in Saudi Arabia is a huge step towards expanding women’s basic rights, which, to begin with, should not be called “women’s rights” at all, but human rights. We hope that other conservative countries will follow the example of the Saudis and work on the inclusion of women in social and economic life.