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32 female bullet train drivers shine Saudi Arabia’s list of firsts


After completing the first level of training in 2022, Saudi Railway (SAR) unveiled the training achievements of its first batch of 32 female drivers in a video uploaded on its Twitter account. The 32 female drivers will be the first women to operate SAR trains on the 453-kilometer Haramain high-speed line between the cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

First Phase of the Paid Training

The trainees underwent more than 480 hours of training covering theory, occupational hazards, traffic and safety regulations, and other technical issues. The first phase was concluded in the August of last year.

One of the trainees said that they were learning to operate the Haramain Express Train using a simulator that perfectly replicates reality since it has a true driving cabin in which all weather conditions and technical issues that they could experience while operating the train are thoroughly tested, helping to aid and prepare them for the actual excursions.

The female bullet train drivers have expressed their joy at getting the chance to operate a train for the first time in the Middle East. They acknowledged that carrying pilgrims and guests motivates them to operate with great care.

Female Bullet Train Drivers

Second Phase of the Training

The 32 women train drivers in Saudi Arabia will join veteran train drivers in the cab for the next five to six months as part of their second phase of training, according to Spanish railway operator Renfe, the major stakeholder in the consortium administering the high-speed route between Mecca and Medina.

The Haramain Train is determined to train both its male and female captains to attain the greatest levels of safety and security to ensure that the train departs from a station and arrives at its destination without delay or issues, according to Mohannad Shaker, the trainer and train captain.


Message from the Saudi Minister of Transport

Saleh Al Jasser, Minister of Transport and Logistic Services said, “Today, we are recording a new step in terms of localizing competencies and empowering women in our pioneering sector.” According to Mr. Al Jasser, women in the workforce are essential to the nation. In the upcoming months, Saudi women who have received a year of paid training and qualifications will be operating trains between the holy cities.

Call for Female Train Drivers Sent a Shockwave Across Saudi Arabia

The job advert to recruit 30 female train drivers in Saudi Arabia got 28,000 applicants, highlighting the scale of pent-up demand as the traditionally conservative country is finally offering more opportunities for women. Of those 28,000 applicants, 145 were chosen for in-person interviews, and only 34 advanced to the first round of training. Renfe stated that it had been able to narrow down the candidates for the train driver jobs with an online evaluation of educational background and English language skills.

Female Bullet Train Drivers

Few Other Historic Firsts For Saudi Arabia

First All-Female Crew of a Saudi Airline

The first domestic flight in the Kingdom with an all-female crew, the majority of whom were Saudis, was announced by the Saudi low-cost carrier flyadeal in May 2022. Yara Jan, the youngest Saudi woman pilot at the age of 23, co-piloted Flight 117 with a crew of seven.

Saudi Arabia now has more female pilots than ever before. Three names stand out: co-pilot Yasmin Al-Maimani, who was the first female co-pilot in the Kingdom; Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi, the first female pilot to fly with a Saudi commercial pilot license; and Rawia Al-Rifi, the first to fly an Airbus A320 internationally as a civil aircraft from the UAE.


First Female Soldiers of Saudi Arabia

In September 2021, the Armed Forces Women’s Cadre Training Center graduated the first female recruits from Saudi Arabia. The female soldiers were inducted after completing a 14-week military training course.

The decision to allow women in the Saudi military was made as part of the country’s Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to transform virtually every aspect of society and the political system. The empowerment of women and gender equality are two of the aspects included in the initiative.

Female Bullet Train Drivers

First Female Crane Driver in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia appointed Merryhan Al-Baz, 30, as the first female crane driver in the world. She inherited her father’s love of motors and engines, which gave her the opportunity to participate in the Diriyah E-Prix 2022 as a recovery marshal. Al-Baz said, “No one ever thought a woman could enter this field — the world of mechanics is a male-dominated career.”

First Female Astronaut of Saudi Arabia

Women are taking the lead as Saudi Arabia strengthens its position in the space race. A new mission program for which the Kingdom has made preparations includes sending a female astronaut into space for the first time. This year, a crew will be assembled and prepared for both long- and short-duration space missions, with one Saudi woman serving as an astronaut and pilot, creating a historic first for the Kingdom.

Job opportunities for Saudi women had been limited to roles such as teachers and medical workers, as they had to observe strict gender segregation rules. Female participation in the workforce has nearly doubled in the last five years to 33 percent, thanks to the drive by the Saudi crown prince to open up the kingdom and diversify the economy. Saudi Arabia’s women are now filling positions previously reserved for males and migrant workers.

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Murryam Hafeez

I am a Transportation Engineer by profession and also a voracious reader. I read everything, from novels to the ingredients written on my jar of peanut butter.

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