Arab News, Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Shaaban 30, 1439
Meet ‘Captainah’ Enaam, Careem’s first female driver in Saudi Arabia
Careem, the Middle East’s ride-hailing
firm, has named its first female driver in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom prepares
to allow women behind the wheel from next month.
Enaam Gazi Al-Aswad was selected to become the first “captainah” — the female
version of the Careem “captain,” as the firm calls its drivers — from among
around 3,000 women looking for employment with the company. “When the
authorities announced in September that women would be allowed to drive, I
wanted to be the first and contacted Careem straight away,” Al-Aswad told Arab
News at a media event in Dubai.
“It is wonderful to think that after all this time we will have the freedom to
drive. It will help all of us build the future together in accordance with the
Vision 2030 strategy.”
The 43-year-old divorcee learned how to drive in her native Syria, and has a
driving license from that country. She expects to be able to obtain a Saudi
license when she has completed 10 hours of driving tuition under the new laws.
“I already have my own car, a Kia I bought in 2013, and I hope to be able to do
the 10 hours of lessons in a few days,” she said.
She has already received all the necessary training from Careem to enable her to
become a “captainah,” having been hand-picked by the Dubai-based company soon
after last year’s royal decree on women driving.
“It is good for women’s career enhancement, and for their social lives. But also
I think it is our national duty. It is a job to do for the Kingdom,” she said.
Al-Aswad trained as an airline flight attendant in Saudi Arabia before studying
management science at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where she lives. She
expects that being a Careem driver will be the stepping stone to a better life
for her and her two sons.
“For a woman on her own, it is a good way to earn a living and pay the bills. My
sons are excited and very supportive of me. Careem drivers earn good money, I
know. I am telling lots of my female friends to think about it too. I would like
to be a guide as well as a driver,” she said.
Mudassir Sheikha, the co-founder and CEO of Careem, said that he expected new
business to eventually make up for any short-term fall-off in revenues when
women — who previously formed a majority of the firm’s passengers in the Kingdom
— are able to take to the roads themselves. About 95 percent of drivers in the
Kingdom are Saudi nationals, he added.