Women in Saudi Arabia, who, until last September, were not allowed to drive have now been permitted to work as chauffeurs.
The employment opportunity, however, comes with a set of conditions, which, if not complied with, can result in a hefty fine.
As per the bylaws issued by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) for women, who will provide transportation service to families, should 1) be Saudi nationals, 2) must have a proper driving license, and 3) should not suffer from a contagious disease or have a criminal record.
There are more conditions, though. For instance, women chauffeurs should avoid driving alone with male passengers. Also, a male passenger cannot sit in the front seat even if he is accompanied by a woman. If the driver fails to comply with the rules, she can be fined from SR2,000 (almost USD 533) to SR5,000 (almost USD 1,333).
As of September 2017, around 800,000 expatriate men have been working as chauffeurs for Saudi women, according to BBC. However, with the driving restriction lifting on women drivers, the number is expected to decrease, a change, many believe would not only provide local Saudi women with job opportunities, but also save money.
Saudi women are expected to save $1,000 a month on average, CNN reported in September. Officials hoped "the money will remain in the local economy, rather than being sent as remittances to other countries."
The restriction for women to refrain from serving lone male customers comes from "khulwa," which is used to describe the situation when a person is present in the company of a member of the opposite sex, who is unrelated by blood or marriage. This is a legal offense in most Muslim-majority Gulf countries.
It is worth noting, however, that a male taxi, Uber or Careem driving women alone is not a legal offense in Saudi Arabia as it is for women chauffeurs under the latest PTA rules.
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