Women driving: Hectic preparations under way

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Not many women are likely to enter the car maintenance sector, according to experts in the field.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Following amendments in the traffic law and related bylaws and the adoption of regulatory rulings, the next phase of preparations for women driving are under way in the Kingdom, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Women driving in the Kingdom will become a reality, especially in this new phase of development the country is witnessing at all levels under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.

The current phase of preparations involves the establishment of women-run car maintenance centers to cater to female drivers who need car repairs.

Before allowing women to hit the roads, several preparations are necessary, according to officials.

In addition to specialized repair shops, these include the establishment of exclusive driving institutes.

Will Saudi women be able to break social norms by repairing cars and working as driving instructors at specialized centers? Will women be able to transcend the concepts of traditional areas of employment for women and enter a career that was hitherto an exclusive male domain? Will the practice of such professions harm their femininity? These are some of the questions that linger in the minds of the public.

When women drive, it may require the establishment of women›s maintenance centers for cars especially in a conservative society such as Saudi Arabia. Certainly, many governmental and private sectors will invest in this field through creating training courses for light maintenance. It is expected that the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation will take the initiative to organize courses for maintenance and repair of cars and identify the main parts of the car, road and signal systems and emergency maintenance, in cooperation with global technical institutes.

A number of workers in the car maintenance sector expect that women driving in the Kingdom will not play a role in the emergence of women›s car maintenance workshops due to the nature of the job of auto mechanics, which will not be favored by women.

Since the Royal Order allowing women to drive was announced, Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University has announced its intention to establish a driving school for women in anticipation of a huge demand.

Although there are high expectations for women to succeed in entering the field of car maintenance, a member of the Committee for Car Workshops at Jeddah Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mohammed Omar Kabli, said: ‘I do not expect women driving will create major changes in the car maintenance field as some expect, because the trade is one that does not attract women. You rarely see women mechanics in other parts of the world.”

Kabli, however, expects more women in the reception and marketing sections of the maintenance workshops. He pointed out that the job opportunities in sales agencies will be more appealing to women.

Kamal Al-Itani, head of a workshop, said, ‘The trade of mechanics is not something women will want to work in. It is rare to see a woman working as a mechanic in the Arab countries or the rest of the world, whether in the west and east. Women›s jobs in car maintenance will be limited to reception and sales. They will be trained to determine necessary repairs with the help of computers.”


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