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“Capitainah”: Careem beats Uber in hiring first female driver in Saudi

Careem, the Middle East’s ride-hailing firm, has announced it hired the first female driver in Saudi, as the Kingdom prepares to allow women behind the wheel starting June 25.

Uber has yet to move on this front.

Are you ready to meet Saudi’s first “captainah” — the female version of Careem’s “captain,” as the firm calls its drivers.

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Meet Enaam Gazi Al-Aswad

From among around 3,000 women looking for employment with the company, Enaam Gazi Al-Aswad was chosen to be the first woman to drive a Careem in Saudi, Arab News reported.

“When the authorities announced in September that women would be allowed to drive, I wanted to be the first and contacted Careem straight away,” Al-Aswad told Arab News at a media event in Dubai.

“It is wonderful to think that after all this time we will have the freedom to drive. It will help all of us build the future together in accordance with the Vision 2030 strategy.”

The 43-year-old learned how to drive in her native Syria, and she has a driving license from that country, according to Arab News.

She expects to be able to obtain a Saudi license when she has completed 10 hours of driving tuition under the new laws.

“I already have my own car, a Kia I bought in 2013, and I hope to be able to do the 10 hours of lessons in a few days,” she said.

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She has already received all the necessary training from Careem to enable her to become a “captainah,” having been hand-picked by the Dubai-based company soon after last year’s royal decree on women driving.

Al-Aswad trained as an airline flight attendant in Saudi Arabia before studying management science at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, where she lives. She expects that being a Careem driver will be the stepping stone to a better life for her and her two sons, Arab News reported.

First “Capitainah” but not last

Tahawul Tech, the definitive platform in the Middle East for IT content, reported Magnus, the cofounder and Chief Navigator at Careem, saying that when the kingdom announced lifting the ban on women driving, Careem received over 2,000 applications from women looking to take up employment.

“The response we’ve had has been fantastic, and our dream would be that the first woman that drives legally in Saudi Arabia will be a captainah,” he added.

REVEALED: Uber vs. Careem: Whose fare is more than fair?

Uber also has a plan

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

“We will partner up with necessary stakeholders to facilitate the paperwork, training access, and access to vehicles, including access to driving schools run by third-party partners,” says Zeid Hreish, Uber’s general manager in Saudi Arabia.

Hreish adds that Uber has also launched “listening sessions” for women in Riyadh, which have been attended by a number of influential figures including the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

The sessions are aimed at “shaping the company’s priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom,” and have addressed topics such as problems women could face when driving.

Uber and Careem hope their recruitment drive of women can support the Saudi government’s efforts to reduce the country’s unemployment rate, which the Saudi General Authority for Statistics estimates to be at 12.8%, according to CNN.