First time ever a women drove high speed train in Saudi Arabia.
A high-speed train carrying pilgrims to Makkah is being driven by driver Tharaa Ali, who was hired by Saudi Arabia in an effort to take advantage of the country’s rapidly growing female labour force. Before recently, 25-year-old Ali’s only transportation experience consisted of driving around her hometown of Jeddah in the family sedan because Saudi women were only granted the privilege to drive in 2018.
The Haramain High Speed Railway travels the 450-kilometer route between the holy cities of Makkah and Madina at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour, and last year, 28,000 applications competed for 32 seats for women drivers.
She was shocked to learn that the former English teacher was one of the fortunate few chosen, and she just returned from her first trip. “My first day here was like a dream for me, getting on the train and going into the cabin,” she remarked.
“When you are in the cabin, you may see objects moving quickly in your direction. I had fear and dread, but thank God, with time and diligent practise, I gained confidence in myself.” Since 2016, the percentage of Saudi women working has increased from 17% to 37%.
The data supports the idea that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has expanded women’s rights, making it a dependable applause line at gatherings like the World Economic Forum in Davos.