Careem, the popular ride-hailing app prominent in the Middle East, is hoping to attract as many as 20,000 female drivers by the year 2020. The company already has half a million drivers in 100 cities across the ME, with women drivers in the UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine.
Despite the fact that social norms in Pakistan associate men with driving jobs, that country has the most women in their fleet, and also has women signed-up to drive bicycles and rickshaws in addition to cars.
Following Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive for the first time in September 2017, 2,000 women in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam signed up to drive for Careem. The company already has a women-only call center working in Jeddah and is getting ready to open a female-only training center in Saudi Arabia later this year.
Until now the company has focused on attracting and catering to male drivers, but CEO and co-founder Mudassir Sheikha said that is changing.
“It’s time for us and the entire industry to wake up. Not only is there a moral obligation to do so, but there’s also a huge opportunity to grow our business around women and give them the economic opportunity to excel. Women are often the primary breadwinners and looking for alternative, flexible ways to support their families,” he said.
He added that the company will be investing and structuring its business so that women will have more rewarding income opportunities.