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More freedom for women travelling to Saudi reinforces empowerment

Lebanon and the UAE are strong advocates for women’s freedom in the region, but they are being upstaged by Saudi lately.

Saudi women are emerging into the scene, prompted by the Kingdom’s leadership, which began their women’s liberation campaign late last year; and this year will not be any different.

Check out this stunning announcement!

Who needs a chaperon?

A spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) was quoted in the media Thursday as saying that women aged 25 and above can now have a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia, without the need to be accompanied by a family member or companion.

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The SCTH told Arab news that the issuance of the tourist visas would be announced during the first quarter of 2018.

“Regulations for tourist visas have been finalized and an electronic system is being built in coordination with the National Information Center and the Foreign Ministry,” Director General of the Commission’s Licensing Department, Omar Al-Mubarak, was quoted as saying.

Moreover, Saudi women now have privileges more than before.

In 2017, King Salman issued an order allowing Saudi women to benefit from government services, such as education and healthcare, without needing their male guardian’s consent.

Saudi female chauffeurs on the horizon

A study by CNN, published on Thursday, says that Uber and Careem, the companies behind the leading ride hailing applications in Saudi Arabia, are recruiting the first Saudi female drivers.

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Careem launched a series of 90-minute training sessions in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, targeting Saudi women who have already acquired valid driving licenses while abroad, as reported by CNN.

“Taught by existing female Saudi employees of Careem, the sessions educate attendees about Saudi road laws, customer service techniques, and how to use the application’s platform,” it said.

It quoted Abdullah Elyas, Co-Founder and Chief Privacy Officer at Careem as saying that Careem already received thousands of applications from Saudi women interested in becoming drivers.

Uber, meanwhile, has announced plans to open “one-stop-shop” facilities dedicated to recruiting future female drivers, or “partners,” as the company calls them, according to CNN.

Statistics provided by Frost & Sullivan reveal that 90,000 to 150,000 women approximately are expected to get driving licenses in KSA annually.

Saudi’s lifting of the driving ban paves the way for women to be more mobile, thus more involved in the Saudi workforce.

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Working Saudi women

According to the Saudi Gazette, the number of women seeking jobs during Q3 2017 reached 1,040,727, compared to 190,822 men only.

Saudi women now have a diversity of work options.

They will soon be able to join the Saudi Ground Services Co. as clerks at check-in counters starting February, according to Arab News.

The Saudi Gazette also reveals that the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development went ahead with plans to introduce Saudi women sales personnel at shops selling women’s accessories at indoor malls, outdoor shopping centers and independent stores starting October 21, 2017.

Also, the Maaden Mining Co. announced in December 2017 a partnership agreement to establish a new training program for women to develop the mining skills of Saudi women.

Saudi women have already been given more responsibility as high-level appointees in major governmental posts.

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Entertainment options

While in the past Saudi women entertainment options were limited to mall shopping and eating at restaurants, they could, as of this coming Friday, attend soccer games, cheer and sneer as they please the teams on the pitch.

According to The Independent, women will be able to attend three football matches from the Saudi Professional League in a first for the country.

“The three stadiums which are set to hold the relevant fixtures have been specifically ‘adapted’ to allow for family and women’s seating,” according to the statement.

“This implies crowds will initially be segregated.”

Last year in October, Saudi men and women attended the “Short Film Competition 2” Festival at King Fahad Culture Center in Riyadh, with the hall being segregated by gender.