Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia put into effect the historic decision of allowing women to drive.
The Royal Decree was announced last year with women finally being able to get behind the wheel today on June 24.
This decision means that the total number of female drivers in Saudi Arabia is projected to reach 3 million in 2020, according to a PwC report.
In comparison, male drivers are set to increase from 9 million in 2017 to 9.5 million in 2020.
That’s another 3.5 million drivers by 2020 and even if that doesn’t mean a new car for every new driver, it’s safe to say that the number of car purchases will go up.
And so, of course, brands – automotive ones especially – are capitalizing on this opportunity.
Chevrolet has announced two initiatives in line with the lifting of the ban. The first is 24/7 roadside assistance for women drivers – regardless of the car they drive – to reduce road safety and vehicle breakdown concerns. The service existed even before but was available only to Chevrolet car owners. Now, the 24/7 assistance will be available only to women – regardless of the car they drive – for two months starting today.
Commenting on the initiative, Molly Peck, chief marketing officer at General Motors Middle East says: “Safety is part of our very foundation at Chevrolet and we continuously work to find ways to deliver on this promise to our customers, their cars, and their security on the road, KSA is no different. Engrained in the Saudi community for over 90 years now, we have been a constant companion providing dependable means of transport to both men and women which is why extending our 24/7 Roadside Assistance program to all women drivers in Saudi was a natural step for Chevrolet.”
Secondly, the brand has put out a social media campaign – “10Shawwal” – to mark the date.
“We wanted to create a symbol to memorialize the historic significance of this milestone and our 10 Shawwal street sign does exactly that,” adds Peck. “We hope women and men in Saudi will join us in marking this day by sharing the 10 Shawwal street sign and filter across social media to recognize today’s significance to the women of Saudi Arabia, whether they decide to join the driving community or not.”
The brand launched a World Driving Day with Aseel Al Ahmad who is the first Saudi female board member at the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and the first Saudi woman to own a Ferrari.
The brand launched its #100SimpleJoysOfDriving campaign, which is a series of eight short films celebrating well, the 100 joys of driving. Bruno Gisquet, marketing director for Volkswagen Middle East says: “At Volkswagen, people are at the heart of what we do and the inspiration for our unique creations. We may make machines, but the Volkswagen top 100 Simple Joys of Driving campaign proves that people have fun behind the wheel and we want to celebrate and bring to life those very feelings and experiences!”
“This is a wonderful moment in history for women in Saudi Arabia because the moment you get behind the wheel of your own vehicle, life can change in so many positive ways. We look forward to supporting a whole new generation of women drivers in the Kingdom,” says Jim Farley, executive vice-president and President, Global Markets, Ford Motor Company.
And so, it launched its #WithYouInFront campaign, which is based on the spirit of “geddam” – a colloquial Saudi word, literally meaning “in front”, or conversationally, to “go for it”.
The brand gave away seven Renault Capturs to the first seven women to visit its KSA showroom with a driving license. Why the Renault Captur? “We specifically chose the Renault Captur because it is the first Renault model to be designed by a gender-balanced team, with almost half of the designers being women,” explains the company in a statement.
Furthermore, the brand is working on ensuring that “female influence plays a vital role in our car design” because “what women are looking for in a car is very different,” says Marwan Haidamous, Renault Middle East’s managing director.
“If you don’t pay attention to those features, you end up having a customer base which is mainly male … Who is going to pay attention to this? It’s mandatory to make sure the car is going to come with attributes pleasing women,” he adds.
Audi, too, has released the below video to celebrate the occasion.
On this day, however, it has been mostly silent except for this tweet.
— Nissan Middle East (@NissanME) June 24, 2018
The ride-hailing app announced last year that it would allow female drivers to sign up with Uber. This year, it also announced a new feature that would let female drivers adjust their preferences so they could only select female riders based on an Ipsos research that showed 74 percent of prospective women drivers would only be interested in driving women riders.
Uber has also finalized its first women partner support center in Riyadh for its female drivers. It has also SAR 1 million and partnered with Al Nahda to financially support women interested in obtaining a driver license.
Similarly, Careem also allowed female drivers to sign up with the app but it went one step further to provide training to these potential drivers with the aim of having 20,000 female drivers across the region by 2020.
— كريم السعودية (@CareemKSA) June 22, 2018