Skip to Content

Saudi Arabian women are getting gigs as ride-hailing drivers

July 10, 2018

The country’s ban on female drivers has been removed, and the first women are taking the wheel.

The big change: At the end of June, the Saudi Arabian government lifted the decades-old ban, after the move had been announced in September of last year. In the time in between, Uber’s Middle East competitor, Careem, received more than 2,000 applications from women who wanted jobs as drivers.

The news: Careem’s first female drivers (which the platform refers to as “captains”—or “captainahs”) have already begun work. That not only gives them opportunities to earn cash on the side—it also helps provide other women with more reliable transportation to and from their own work arrangements.

But … While many customers are receptive to being picked up by female captains, they still face an uphill battle. “I support women driving but if I ordered an Uber and saw it was a woman driver, I would cancel,” Aziz Ahmad, a college student in Jeddah, told the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t think it’s right for a woman to be alone with a foreign [unrelated] man in the car.”

What about Uber? Although Uber has been offering more than $250,000 since March to finance the costs of driving school for women, no women have yet begun driving for the company.

What’s next: Careem plans to hire 20,000 women as drivers throughout the Middle East over the next two years.

Deep Dive


Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.