40% fall in recruitment of foreign drivers seen

April 24, 2018
The monthly wages for expat drivers paid by Saudi households exceed SR2.07 billion. — Courtesy photo
The monthly wages for expat drivers paid by Saudi households exceed SR2.07 billion. — Courtesy photo

Saudi Gazette report

– As the dates for women driving and Saudization of the taxi sector approaching fast, recruitment of foreign drivers in the Kingdom has declined 10 percent in the beginning of this year. The figure is expected to reach 40 percent by the end of the year.

Economists said the fall in recruitment of foreign drivers would reduce Saudi families’ cost of living, help them save a substantial amount of money annually and reduce remittances by expat workers.

Abdullah Al-Ansari, owner of a recruitment company, said the decision to allow women driving and Saudization of taxis through smart applications have brought down the rate of recruitment of foreign drivers by 10 percent in the beginning of this year.

“The fall in recruitment will naturally reduce the expenditures of Saudi families,” Al-Ansari told Al-Madina Arabic daily. “Saudi families will be able to save the money they used to spend on drivers following the introduction of women driving on June 24,” he added.

Hussain Al-Motairy, owner of another recruitment office, said he has noticed a slight fall of 10 percent in recruitment of drivers following the government’s decision to allow women to drive on the Kingdom’s roads. This figure will reach 40 percent shortly, he added.

He expected a 33 percent fall in the cost of recruiting foreign drivers this year compared to last year. “At present the recruitment cost is SR3,000 whereas it was SR4,500 earlier,” he added.

Economic adviser Dr. Fuad Bogari said fall in recruitment of drivers would help a Saudi family save SR25,000 annually. The figure includes the cost of recruitment and visa and monthly salary. The move will also bring down remittances by expat drivers.

According to the General Authority of Statistics, the number of foreign drivers in the Kingdom stood at 1.38 million in the first quarter of 2017. They received an average monthly salary of SR1,500.

“This means Saudi families paid SR2.07 billion in salary of their drivers every month,” Bogari said while speaking to Al-Madina.

Many Saudi women have started learning driving in their bid to drive own cars from June 24. This will enable Saudi families to get rid of foreign drivers.

“I've always been a passenger in the car and I can't wait to get behind the wheel,” said Shams Hakim, a female university student, while attending a driving school at Effat University in Jeddah.”

“I'm excited, but I also have some apprehension about what is actually involved in driving,” Hakim added.

The student of Business Human Resources is one of 250 women who have signed up to carmaker Ford's Driving Skills for Life for Her (DSFL) program, essentially a hands-on driving school run by Ford in the university. Hakim says the program has given her “the confidence and education I need for the journey that lies ahead to obtain my license.”

The ban on women driving has been costly for Saudi families.

The wealthy hire and house male drivers, often from South Asian countries, while others make due with taxis and ride-hailing services. Still, for many women, commuting to work or running basic errands requires a husband or son who can make the drive.

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