The landscape of the Saudi workforce is forever evolving, with many progressive changes being made around gender equality and equal pay. For the first time, women in Saudi Arabia have qualified to drive the Haramain Express trains – also known as the fast trains – between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
One such person that has garnered the attention and praise of many around the world is 25-year-old driver Tharaa Ali. For many years, the only experience Ali had was in her family Sedan after women gained the right to drive in 2018. However, she has come a long way since then and has now qualified to drive the Haramain High-Speed Railway (HHR) after being selected from a list of 28,000 applicants.
In an interview with AFP, she said, “The first day working here was like a dream for me – entering the train, entering the cabin. When you are in the cabin, you see things heading towards you at a very high speed. A feeling of fear and dread came over me, but thank God, with time and intensive training, I became confident in myself”.
In total, 32 women have qualified to be drivers on the HHR. For all of them, such a job is a huge opportunity as the idea of serving pilgrims between the two holy cities for Umrah and Hajj is a highly rewarding endeavour.
A Growing Area
Travelling at a speed of 300 kilometres per hour, the HHR does several trips a day between Makkah and Madinah. This move by Saudi is causing many to witness the sudden growth of innovation, progressiveness and a booming workforce. Saudi Arabian economist, Meshal Alkhowwaiter believes that “the challenge has shifted from encouraging women to join the workforce to creating enough jobs to employ the thousands of Saudi Arabian women who enter the workforce each quarter”.
With a vision to keep evolving the country’s workforce, Executive Vice President of Saudi Railways Rayan al-Harbi aims to keep going in this direction by employing more women. In discussing the trailblazing achievements of the 32 new women drivers, he told France 24 that “this is evidence that Saudi women have full capacity when they are empowered to perform duties like their brothers”.
Main Image Credit: Railly News