First time in history – Saudi woman to race car in the kingdom
Reema Juffali is changing the Saudi history as she becomes the first Saudi woman to race in the kingdom.
Such opportunities were unimaginable for women living in the ultra-conservative kingdom until June last year, when Crowned Prince Mohammad Bin Salman lifts the ban on female motorists as a part of his wide-ranging liberalization drive.
Jufalli, a 27-year-old who made her motoring debut just months after the decades-old ban ended, is now competing in the Jaguar I-PACE e-TROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, near to the capital Riyadh.
While talking to the national media, Juffali said,
“The ban was lifted last year and I never expected to race professionally. The fact that I am doing it… is amazing.”
Juffali belongs to the western city of Jeddah and was educated in the United States, is participating as “VIP” guest driver, becoming the first Saudi woman to race on home soil.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s sports authority chief, has touted it as a “watershed” moment for the kingdom.
“Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver,” the prince said.
Juffali made her first appearances in competitive racing at the F4 British Championship at Brands Hatch in April, and has about a year of professional racing experience under her belt, but she has had a passion for fast cars since her teenage.
According to details, Reema passed her driving test after she moved to the United States of America to study, and now she is the only Saudi woman to have obtained a “racing licence” in her home country. Even outside the kingdom, only a few Saudi women have raced professionally.
“For a lot of women who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to drive, to get behind the wheel is definitely something scary,” explained Juffali.
Juffali said that her dream was to race at Le Mans, a 24-hour competition in France that is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions.
In Riyadh she is racing against the season’s veterans but will not score any points.
Prince Mohammed has sought to shake off his country’s ultra-conservative image by allowing greater freedoms for women, including easing so-called “guardianship” rules that give men authority over female relatives.