Muscat: From March 1, Oman will allow women to drive taxis and heavy vehicles, according to a statement released by the Royal Oman Police. “The Omani government’s endeavour is to give women equal business and employment rights,” the statement read.
The new, women-driven taxis will be painted pink, blue and white to differentiate them from the traditional orange and white taxis.
Many women have welcomed the move. “It’s good news for us as women; we have called for female driven taxis in Oman for years. This has now happened, thanks to the government’s efforts,” said Nasra Al Beloushi, a private sector employee, told Gulf News.
She added that women passengers will feel safer and more comfortable in the knowledge that a woman is driving them to their destination. “Some women sometimes avoid taking taxis due to the [perceived] lack of safety as well as harassment by taxi drivers,” Al Nasra explained.
Huda Al Mashari, a mother of four and a job seeker, said she would become a taxi driver to earn a living, ferrying women and children around. “Hopefully in the near future, I can make some money to help my family,” she said.
Suhair Hamdan, an expatriate worker, said a new app should be introduced to ensure hassle-free travel for women. “There is a lot of demand for women taxi drivers. I think they can do good business,” she said.
Ahmad Al Ansari, an Omani taxi driver told Gulf News the decision will not have a big impact on his job as most of his clients are men. “It’s a good move. Women will feel more comfortable being driven by another woman,” he said.
As part of its amendments to the traffic law, Oman has also introduced heftier penalties for traffic violations starting from March 1. The new regulations are aimed at reducing traffic accidents in Oman.
From March 1, expats in Oman will have to renew their driving licence once every two years, instead of the current 10. Also, car seats will be mandatory in Oman for children under four.
Fahad Al Mukrashi is a freelance journalist based in Muscat