Clad in a racer’s uniform, holding tight the steering of an electric SUV, Reema Juffali creates history by racing in male-dominated motorsport in Saudi Arabia as the first Saudi woman ever to race on her home soil. In the ultra-conservative Islamic State as Saudi Arabia, Juffail crossed all barriers to compete in Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, near the capital Riyadh on Friday and Saturday.

Juffali has been able to step into the field as a Saudi woman motorist after the world’s only ban by the state on woman motorists was removed in June last year. Crown Prince Mohammed-bin-Salman initiated a liberalisation drive in the state and as a part of it lifted the ban that restricted women from driving and racing as motorists.

Key Takeaways:

  • Reema Juffali, 27, becomes the first Saudi woman motorist to race in motorsport held in Saudi Arabia.
  • Juffali competed in Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, near the capital Riyadh on Friday and Saturday.
  •  Being the first Saudi woman to do that, she was recognised by the organisers as the VIP guest driver.   
  • She first participated in F4 British Championship at Brands Hatch in April.
  • Saudi Arabia had put a ban on woman motorists until June of last year when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban.  

Juffali’s enterprise as a Saudi woman motorist

In the Islamic State that is considered as the “ultra-conservative” towards women and even had the world’s only ban on woman motorists, Juffali’s enterprise is remarkable. 27-year-old Juffali made her debut as woman motorist months after the decade-old ban was finally lifted. She first participated in F4 British Championship at Brands Hatch in April. However, she was just one of the few Saudi women who possessed a driving licence and raced as motorists across the world.

“Many [people] are surprised by all the changes happening in Saudi. Seeing me in a car, racing… For a lot of people, it’s a surprise, but I am happy to surprise people.”

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According to a report by Times of Israel , in an interview with AFP or Agence France- Presse, Juffali said, “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. For a lot of women in Saudi, it’s something so far away.”

 The “watershed” moment as Juffali becomes the first-ever

However, in a table-turning moment, Juffali participated as a motorist in motorsport happening within the state. Being the first Saudi woman to do that, she was recognised by the organisers as the VIP guest driver.

While driving her black-and-green Jaguar I-Pace, Jufali told AFP, “The ban was lifted last year and I never expected to race professionally. The fact that I am doing it… is amazing,”

In an interview with AFP, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s sports authority chief said, “It is indeed a watershed moment for the kingdom. Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver.”

Juffali exemplifies a surprising change

With hope and dream in her eyes, while holding her steering, Juffali added, “My dream is to one day race at Le Mans — a 24-hour competition in France that is one of the world’s most prestigious and gruelling.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s sports authority chief said, “It is indeed a watershed moment for the kingdom. Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver.”

Reema Juffali sets a benchmark of how women can dream and achieve it despite the restrictions. Hailing from the western city of Jeddah and completing her education from the US, Juffali exemplifies a change in the orthodox of the Islamic State. She said, “Many [people] are surprised by all the changes happening in Saudi. Seeing me in a car, racing… For a lot of people, it’s a surprise, but I am happy to surprise people.”

Picture Credit: Gulf News

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

Also Read: Women Can Now Join Armed Forces: Saudi Arabia

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