Three Western women to head Saudi women driving programme

Some Saudi women have already obtained their licences abroad in preparation to train student drivers

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has chosen a global team of instructors from Wales, Canada and America to train women starting from June 24.

The BBC has reported that this team will work as “senior assessors” to train new examiners and instructors.

Around 1,500 people applied for the three jobs.

Susan Newbon, Deborah Sherwood and Norma Adrianzen were the ones chosen for these positions.

The Welsh Susan Newbon, 56, from Llantwit Major in Vale of Glamorgan, said “I wanted to do this because I want to see other women achieve.”

Newbon said teachers at the driving schools will be Saudi women who have obtained their license abroad.

She added that more Saudi trainers are travelling to other countries in the region to get their driving licenses and experience in preparation for the team’s arrival.

Newbon was self-employed. She stared her driving school in the UK in 1993.

Newbon said she was initially worried about moving to Saudi Arabia, but she found the people welcoming.

“After spending the last few weeks with the ladies, and learning about their culture and how not being able to drive has impacted their everyday lives, it is a real honor and privilege to be part of the changes.”

In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of a decades-long ban on women driving — the only one of its kind in the world.

The General Department of Traffic Director General Mohammed Bassami said, “All the requirements for women in the kingdom to start driving have been established.”

Latifa Al Shaalan, a member of the Shura Council, said the decision would strengthen women’s employment in the private sector.

“This is an historic day and I cannot find the words to express my feelings and the feelings of thousands of Saudi women,” she said on Arabiya TV.

The lifting of the driving ban comes in light of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s push for reform in the country which aims to restore moderate Islam to the country amid decades of conservative domination as well as boost the economy by opening up the workforce to more women.

Allowing them to drive is seen as essential in boosting their numbers in the workforce.

-Hams Saleh is an intern at Gulf News


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