Uber hugely successful in Saudi Arabia, thanks to ban on women driving

Saudi women taking taxis. FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

If Uber hadn’t already changed enough lives in most western cities, its launch in Saudi Arabia has made a world of difference for the mobility of women. The country bans women from driving and, up until recently, women there have been totally dependent on male relatives or various paid car services to get them around. Uber launched in Riyadh in 2014 and also operates in Jeddah and Damman and it has been estimated that 70 percent to 90 percent of Saudi Uber riders are women. While women only make up 13 percent of the Saudi workforce, they are 60 percent of the university students, which accounts for much of the high demand of daily commutes. Uber operates via other pre-existing car services, but the service has cut the average wait time for a car from about half an hour to six or seven minutes. Moreover, the launch was so successful as a result of the Saudi tradition of travel. It is common for Saudi families to vacation in Europe and therefore many people had used the service in other cities and were familiar with how it worked. The company’s next move is to increase availability within the cities as well as having a service to take people back and forth between Jeddah and Mecca during Ramadan.

Read the full story at Fast Company.

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