Car imports jump after ban on women driving lifted


Saudi Gazette report

Saudi Arabia imported 231,631 cars during the past five months, according to the Customs Department. It said the vehicles came from five different countries.

Economist Bassim Hashad said the lifting of the ban on women driving would increase car imports to cater to the needs of women drivers.

He expected a 15 percent increase in car sales based on reports issued by banks and marketing departments of automobile dealers in the country.

“The increase in purchase of cars by women would have its direct and indirect impacts on a number of economic sectors in the Kingdom,” Hashad said while speaking to Al-Watan Arabic daily.

The direct impact of women driving is increase in car sales, banking activities including loans given to customers to purchase cars. It will also boost the car insurance market as well.

“The lifting of diving ban will also strengthen related businesses such as sales of auto accessories, spare parts and maintenance workshops,” Hashad said.

Indirect impact includes increase in job opportunities for women who have obtained driving licenses. Women drivers can teach other women how to drive for a fee. The move will also increase the number of women who visit local markets and shopping centers.

“These developments will enable women to play a more active role in accelerating the Kingdom’s economic and social development,” the economist said.

According to participants of a forum in Jeddah, women driving will create more than 50,000 jobs within a year. The forum discussed economic effects of Saudi women driving, penalties for obstructing women from driving, how jobs will be created for women and the negative aspects of depending on expat drivers.

Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said women driving will contribute to creating a large number of job opportunities and realizing one of the pillars of Vision 2030, which is to raise women’s participation in nation building from 22 to 30 percent.

Manal Al-Sharif, managing editor of Al-Bilad newspaper, highlighted economic and social disadvantages of depending on expat drivers.

Rasha Imam, the first Saudi female rally driver, said she was thrilled with the lifting the ban on women driving as she will be able to represent her country in many competitions.