The Effect of Driving Women on Saudi Economy
In 2016 only, Saudi Arabia imported nearly one million vehicles. The Saudi Arabian kingdom largely imports automotive parts and products from the U. S, as it re-exports some of the imports. Today, there is little activity on the production of trucks and auto parts and no production of light vehicles. Thus most of the vehicles, as well as parts sold in Saudi Arabia, are often imported. Also, the recent declaration of NEOM, a planned city estimated to cover 26, 500 sq. km and expand to Egypt and Jordan adds to the collection of great construction projects (U. S. -Saudi Arabian Business Council. Driven by the changes in the economy, more is expected, but they will possibly revolve social changes to accompany the drive towards the country's vision 2030.
As well, tough guardianship laws have encouraged the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. Fathers or husbands have had the right to prevent their daughters or wives from leaving the homestead. Many in this intensely conservative society has for a long time embraced such laws. Besides, the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman had perceived the idea of women drivers as a major plank of reforms. He emphasized that the move towards reforms would result in a high level of women participation in the economy of the country. In the past, over 13 million women in Saudi Arabia have been prohibited from driving motor vehicles in their country of origin. Also, women have consistently requested for the freedom to drive in this conservative society and have taken part in different protest actions to promote their pleas (Sidani, 2005).
Although the idea of having women drivers has always met opposition from different groups, there are some who have welcomed the notion of women driving. As well other women groups in Saudi have taken in the streets as a way of trying to push for reforms towards the issue of banning women drivers. Women have claimed their right to freedom in regards to their gender. The impact of legalizing women driving in Saudi Arabia. Public opinion surveys have revealed that 87. 2 percent of Saudi Arabian households employ a private driver (Ellyatt & Gamble, 2017). Other survey report showed that there is a high number of domestic, foreign individuals who are hired to work as drivers estimated at 1. 37 million (Ellyatt & Gamble, 2017). As well, it will force foreign male employees who desire to work in the Gulf region to seek employment in alternatives regions or alternative employment.
A direct effect of lifting the ban could have a positive impact on the nation’s economy due to increased mobility of women. Promoting the mobility of women in Saudi Arabia may aid them to overcome a few of the major problems they encounter when trying to gain access to employment opportunities. Assuming that the ban is the major handicap to women’s participation into the labor force, the new law would allow a majority of the still unemployed women to have a real contribution to the economy of the country. Besides, it would allow most of the women who are still in schools or even going through training to participate in the labor force in the future. Also, the car market had declined by almost a quarter from 858,000 light cars in 2015, and it is expected to rise to 644,000 in 2018, something that demonstrates the wide economic halt of the country (Chulov, 2017).
However, a lift of the ban will result in an additional 9 million possible drivers, including 2. 7 million non-Saudi women residing in the country. As well, luxury vehicles such as Bentley and Lamborghini are expected to launch their SUV's which is a category of cars that are popular among women. Besides, these groups of cars account for nearly more than one among every five cars that are sold in the country. The presence of a homemade automobile collection in Saudi Arabia will further help in complimenting the other great economically feasible projects the Saudi is developing like the King Abdullah Economic City which hopes to become a great logistics hub competing with Jebel Ali located in Dubai. Allowing women to drive will help create more employment opportunities for them besides helping them to save a large amount of the household income by cutting the costs associated with hiring a domestic driver.
Also, it will create competition since a lot of drivers will move from the country and thus cut down wages. In regards to budgeting, women driving will be a great opportunity for them to rent cars from various car dealers. Besides, it will require car dealers an opportunity to market for second-hand cars. Even though the loss of residence and employment would be painful for the foreign workers, it would in a way help to balance the economy of the country. For instance, as nearly 6 percent of the country's GDP is currently leaving the country regarding remittance payments, the figure will greatly reduce since more a high number of taxis will be wound down (Santosdiaz, 2018). Thus, more women would be hired to drive the economy of the nation.
The presence of women drivers will also make Saudi to become less reliant on foreign labor. Currently, different aspects of employment, both the well skilled and poorly skilled jobs heavily rely on foreign labor. If allowing women to drive would help free up the country’s restrictive workforce, it would do away with the major problem that Saudi’s economy is facing based on the observations of the recent study in regards to global competitiveness by the World Economic Forum. Since Saudi Arabia is the only known country that prohibited its women from driving, it received negative perception from the global investors. Hence, permitting women to drive will surely mend the international perception of the country and increase direct investment from the foreigners who are by standards very poor.
Therefore, women drivers would help influence the country’s international image and contribute towards the attainment of the Vision 2030 goal strategy. The benefits of allowing women to drive also go beyond the great macroeconomic factors. In regards to the low participation rate of women in the different sectors of Saudi’s economy, allowing them to drive would necessitate for further structural measures like a modification in the social norms of the country as well as the readiness of the employment sector to accommodate women employees (Hubbard, 2017). Also, the relatively high rate of unemployment among natives implies that the potential entry of a large number of women into the labor force will create an imbalance to the labor market. Thus, the government will be required to hasten the programme to replace the most of the foreign workers with workers from Saudi Arabia.
Instead of maximizing the prospects for growth by maximizing the labor input in the country’s economy, the benefits will emerge from enhancing the competitiveness and skill levels of the labor market of the country even though it will be at the expense of adding to issues of oversupply in the market. Giving women a greater opportunity to access the labor force as well as a great earning potential will have more far-reaching effects. This would result from increasing the level of female labor participation and thus enhance the potential growth in the country's GDP. Therefore, the new laws will increase the participation of women in the workplace. A majority of women in Saudi Arabia have been known to spend a huge amount of their income on domestic drivers or at other times; they are driven to their destinations by male relatives.
The beliefs and customs of this conservative Kingdom have always stated that it is not appropriate for women to drive within the Saudi culture or that male drive would fail to understand how to cope with women drivers on the road with them. Other people have claimed that permitting women to drive would result in sinful practices as well as the downfall of the Saudi family. References Al Jabri, Taj (2017). “Women As A Source Of Survival And Advantage: The Case For Saudi Arabia. ” Women Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from: https://www. entrepreneur. theguardian. com/world/2017/sep/26/saudi-arabias-king-issues-order-allowing-women-to-drive. Deighton, Katie. (2017) “What marketers need to know about the power of Saudi Arabia's new fleet of female drivers” The Drum Retrieved 13 March 2018. http://www. Hubbard, Ben.
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