Female Uber drivers in Saudi Arabia can now choose their passengers' gender

The ride-hailing app has launched a filtering feature - a global first

In this Sunday, June 24, 2018 photo, Ammal Farahat, who has signed up to be a driver for Careem, a regional ride-hailing service that is a competitor to Uber, drives her car in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After lifting a longstanding ban on women driving, it's the latest job opening for Saudi women, that had been reserved for men only, and one that sharply challenges traditional norms. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Powered by automated translation

Uber has introduced a new feature for its female drivers in Saudi Arabia in a bid to get more women behind the wheel.

Female motorists for the ride-hailing app now have the option to connect with female-only passengers, as part of the new 'Women Preferred View' option.

It's the first feature of its kind for Uber, which created the gender preference format following months of research and discussion with drivers in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia officially lifted its ban on issuing women driving licences in June 2018, and Uber hopes to encourage more women into its driving seats with the 'preferred view' option.

"We launched this feature in response to the feedback we received from women drivers in Saudi Arabia and we are committed to always being thoughtful of how we can always improve their experience driving on the app," said Tino Waked, general manager of Uber Middle East and North Africa.

The ride-booking giant first tested the Women Preferred View feature last year, before adding it as a permanent fixture, exclusive to female Saudi drivers, this month.

During research as part of its Masaruky initiative, Uber found that 74 per cent of prospective female drivers would only be interested in hosting passengers of the same gender.

The female-focused initiative is "aimed towards empowering women with economic opportunities", Uber revealed when it launched the project last year, offering women affordable transportation options.

"This newly introduced feature will open new doors and opportunities for women as Uber driver-partners, while being conscientious of local cultural norms," said Waked.

"This is just the start, and we will continue working with experts to leverage our external research as we move forward to ensure that this is in the best interest of women driver-partners in the Kingdom."