Riyadh, With the long-awaited start date for issuing driver's licences to Saudi women just around the corner, the General Department of Traffic's Director, Major General Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Bassami, has confirmed that all requirements for women in Saudi Arabia to start driving have been established.
The senior Saudi official also revealed that the step will open business opportunities and that women will be able to work as taxi drivers and in the related traffic security facilities and activities, the Centre for International Communication (CIC) reported.
Major General Al Bassami praised the support that was given to his department from the Minister of Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, and all government agencies to overcome all obstacles and ensure applying swift and smooth changes, to help women in the Kingdom to benefit the most from this historic move.
The landmark decision in September 2017 by King Salman bin Abdulaziz to allow women to drive has been hailed around the world. The King's decision, which takes effect on June 24, is in line with the Vision 2030 strategy for the future spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to Al Bassami, in order to obtain a private driver's license, applicants must be at least 18 years old while those applying for a public driver's license must be at least 20 years old. Applicants are required to pass a medical exam, theoretical and practical driving tests and complete the required hours of training in accredited driving schools.
Facilities for issuing licenses to both Saudi and non-Saudi women will be up-and-running at the beginning of June. Since the initial announcement that women would be able to drive starting in June, several driving schools have been established in coordination with a number of women's universities.
In preparation for taking both practical and theoretical tests, applicants are required to spend a specified number of hours in training depending on their level of driving proficiency. The training hours will vary between 6 and 30 hours, depending on the applicant's driving skills.
Currently, five driving schools for females have been established in cooperation with women's universities - in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Madinah and Tabuk, and a number of applications have been submitted to open additional driving schools around the country, Al Bassam said.
Training centres associated with universities are new to the Kingdom but considered valuable tools for female students to undergo driver's training without disrupting their usual study routine, he said.
It is no secret that many women in Saudi Arabia hold driving licences from abroad and those who want to get a Saudi licence can do so at 21 sites set up to facilitate the replacement process, but the driving skills of foreign licence holders will be assessed, and licence holders will undergo further training if their skills are found to be lacking.
All the halls and arenas mentioned above are equipped to receive replacement request, he said.
The validity of the licence and the ability of those wishing to replace it will be determined by conducting a driving assessment in accordance with Article 37 and Article 37/2 which state that those who haven't mastered driving should be referred to the Traffic Department even if they hold a driving licence, provided that the requested licence is compatible with the type of foreign or international license they hold.
These centres are located in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Al-Ahsa, Jubail, Buraidah, Oneezah, Hail, Tabuk, Taif, Makkah, Madinah, Abha, Arar, Jizan, Najran, Al Baha, Krayyat and Sakaka.
All laws and regulations governing the roads and driving will be applied equally to male and female drivers, Al Bassami said.
Asked if female motorists will be excluded from traffic violations, such as those for heavy window tints, he said that Royal Order 905 was clear pertaining to the application of the traffic system on both males and females, so the Traffic Department will deal as per the above mentioned with the driver of the vehicle with no exception."
Source: Bahrain News Agency