Just 22% of women are currently active in the workplace © Gehad Hamdy/dpa/PA Images
Just 22% of women are currently active in the workplace © Gehad Hamdy/dpa/PA Images

$90bn boost from Saudi women drivers

26 June 2018

Repeal of the long-standing law which forbade Saudi women from driving could bring economic benefits to the kingdom worth $90bn by 2030, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Bloomberg Economics said allowing Saudi women to drive could help the kingdom reap as much income as selling 5% of shares in Saudi Aramco.

The new laws brought about by Royal Decree came into effect on Sunday, ending Saudi Arabia’s status as the last country on earth to prohibit women from driving.

To celebrate some women drove through the packed streets of Riyadh while others drove in convoys around the capital’s neighbourhoods.

“Lifting the ban on driving is likely to increase the number of women seeking jobs, boosting the size of the workforce and lifting overall incomes and output,” said Ziad Daoud, chief Middle East economist for Bloomberg Economics.

“But it’ll take time before these gains are realised as the economy adapts to absorbing growing number of women seeking work.”

Ending the ban has been seen as one of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most important reforms and a key part of his plan to steer away the economy from its reliance on oil.

The kingdom’s reform programme - Vision 2030 – which aims to end its dependence on energy in the next decade, includes giving women a much bigger role in the economy.

Only 22% of women are active in the workforce while Vision 2030 aims to lift that figure to 30%.

Female unemployment is at 33%, much higher than for men, which stands at 12.7%.

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