Saudi Arabia's decision to overturn a ban on women driving could prove lucrative for international carmakers, with the likes of Ford launching driving schools for women ahead of the radical change in the law.
"I've always been a passenger in the car and I can't wait to get behind the wheel," said Shams Hakim, a female university student in Saudi Arabia. She's attending a driving school at Effat University in Jeddah.
"I'm excited, but I also have some apprehension about what is actually involved in driving," Hakim adds.
The student of Business Human Resources is one of 250 women who have signed up to carmaker Ford's Driving Skills for Life for Her (DSFL) program, essentially a hands-on driving school run by Ford that's based in the university. Hakim says the program has given her "the confidence and education I need for the journey that lies ahead to obtain my license."
Carmaker giant Ford has started a hands-on driving education course for women only, ahead of the lifting of the driving ban on women i the country. According to a royal decree, the ban has to be lifted before June 24 2018.
The overturning of the ban means that women will be allowed to drive in the conservative, religious country for the first time in decades. Hundreds of women have even signed up to become drivers for ride-hailing companies, like Careem.
Ford said more than 250 students joined the driving school program this week in the lead up to International Women's Day on Thursday. Previously, the law in Saudi Arabia had meant that Ford's driving school sessions were for men only.
"The DSFL for Her sessions have been tailor-made for Saudi women as they approach the day when they can legally drive on public roads," Ford said in a press release.
It said the lessons included learning about your vehicle — where students are taught the fundamentals of preparing to drive such as adjusting the seat, checking mirrors and correct hand position — things that drivers take for granted in many countries.