Jeddah: About 1.3 million foreign female drivers will be forced to leave Saudi Arabia and the move will fetch SR33 billion into local economy once the women in the Kingdom start driving come June 2018.
According to an estimate by Arab News, 87.2 per cent of Saudi families have private chauffeurs and 66.7 per cent of Saudis have maids. A foreign house-driver is paid a minimum of SR12,000 per annum in addition to food and accommodation provided by their sponsors.
On September 26, 2017, King Salman ordered the issuance of driver's licenses for women in Saudi Arabia. The decree orders the formation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the edict within 30 days and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018.
The decree referred to the "negative effects of not allowing women to drive vehicles, and the positive effects envisaged from allowing them to do so" within the context of Islamic laws.
About two months after this decision, the Kingdoms' General Department of Traffic (GDT) on Friday announced that women will be allowed to drive trucks once the required conditions and guidelines have been met; now in force for men only.
Saudi women will also be allowed to drive motorcycles as per the royal decree announced in September, which comes into effect in June 2018.
There would be no discrimination against women’s cars with plates and special numbers, the vehicles will be subjected to the same rules currently stated in the seventh article of the traffic law system.
A royal decree was also issued to apply the traffic regulations including the issuance of driving licenses for both males and females, and to form a high-level committee of ministries (Interior, Finance, Labor and Social Development) to study the required arrangements to enforce it.
According to a 2016 estimate, Saudi Arabia has a total population of 21.1 million and the population of expats in the Kingdom is 10.4 million.
Of the total 10.4 million expats living in Saudi Arabia, some 300,000 are Indians and a good number of them are drivers. The Indian expats are contributing a lot in building the economy back home by remitting a whopping $35 billion annually, according to a 2013 report.
Meanwhile, the Saudis are also considering the possibility of allowing foreign female drivers.
"Recruiting foreign women to work as drivers is subject to the regulations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development", the General Department of Traffic (GDT) said in a statement,