From adventurers to inventors, Saudi women unite to inspire new generation

Raha Moharrak, who made history in 2013 as the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest (inset picture), being interviewed in this file photo. Moharrak is one of the speakers in a one-day conference organized by the Alwaleed Philanthropies on Saturday in Riyadh. (File photo)
Updated 11 March 2017
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From adventurers to inventors, Saudi women unite to inspire new generation

RIYADH: Saudi women from adventurers to inventors are hoping a unique conference in Riyadh on Saturday will highlight their changing role and inspire younger women to push for new opportunities in the kingdom.
The event comes at a time when reforms are slowly changing women’s lives in one of the world’s most gender-segregated countries — where women live under the supervision of a male guardian and cannot drive.
Women can now sit on the government advisory Shoura Council, vote in municipal elections, and work in some retail and hospitality jobs with the government’s Vision 2030 trying to diversify the oil-reliant economy by boosting female employment.
The one-day conference run by Alwaleed Philanthropies, a charitable group working to help women, will see Saudi women from various walks of life on the stage alongside international speakers such as British women’s rights campaigner Cherie Blair.
One speaker, Raha Moharrak, 31, who made history in 2013 as the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest, said girls in Saudi Arabia must be taught that they are not less than boys.
“My journey started as a mini rebellion .. I wanted to shock my parents,” said Moharrak, who was determined to do something different after studying abroad and won her reluctant father over by e-mail explaining why climbing was important to her.
“In our culture we are taught to be quiet, taught that being bold is ugly, that being different is discouraged. I think that bold is beautiful, that being different is unique.”
Other speakers include Hadeel Ayoub who invented a smart glove that converts sign language to text and writer Kawthar Al Arbash whose son was killed in 2015 trying to stop a Daesh suicide bomber.

'Saudi women can'
Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud, secretary general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, said the conference, with the slogan “Saudi Women Can,” was part of a campaign to draw attention to Saudi women’s achievements and inspire the next generation.
After the conference — which she hopes to make annual — a microsite SaudiWomenCan.com with a mobile app will issue daily motivational quotes, while other initiatives are planned.
“I want to give the younger generation role models to show them that, no matter what obstacles, there are opportunities and give them stories to inspire them,” Princess Lamia told the Thomson Reuters Foundation which is partnering with the charity to provide training for Saudi journalists on women’s issues.
Speaker Eqbal Darandari, associate professor at King Saud University who was elected to the Shoura Council in 2016, said it was important women learned responsibility and leadership.
“We need to teach females to be stronger ... to make change, to work on their own,” said Darandari, adding the biggest progress would come if women were given decision making roles.
“We are achieving things but not as fast as we would like. But this is a problem not from the top but from down, from the people, as what is needed is social change and that is slow.”
Saudi Arabia is ranked 141 of 144 countries in the Global Gender Gap, a World Economic Forum study on how women fare in economic and political participation, health and education.
Moharrak, a graphic designer, said women need to get the support of their fathers and brothers for real change to happen.
“All the women who have managed to achieve independence have two things in common: a rebellious heart and an understanding father. We don’t grow up with an easy path but no-one wants to be disowned or disrespect their father,” she said.


Unique Riyadh car race brings in enthusiasts from all around

It is not hard to get anyone on to the track — the hardest thing is to get them back again. (Supplied)
Updated 20 October 2018
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Unique Riyadh car race brings in enthusiasts from all around

  • FJR racing team owner Falah Al-Jarba, who is participating for the first time with his 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, said he was impressed with the first round turnout and noted that the short notice of this event did not affect participation

RIYADH: The first round of the Saudi Time Attack race kicked off on the Reem race circuit yesterday. The 16-category race is unique in its participation since anyone can turn up and join in. Whether you are an everyday driver, enthusiast or would-be racer the Time Attack Race has a category for you.
“We target different types of drivers, usually people with a sports car or regular stock car who want to race their car to the max in a safe environment with other drivers,” said Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). He added that the target participants for this race are not necessarily professionals but rather enthusiasts, semi pros, amateurs, and beginners.
FJR racing team owner Falah Al-Jarba, who is participating for the first time with his 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, said he was impressed with the first round turnout and noted that the short notice of this event did not affect participation.
“It is not hard to get anyone on to the track — the hardest thing is to get them back again. Anyone who enters the race track three times of his own free will has the makings of a driver,” he said.

Passion
Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Fahad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, participating racer and owner of the MS7 racing team, said it is passion that attracts everyone to the race. “It is not a head-to-head race but it is competitive and it is fun. There is no pressure — everyone is here to have fun. I am happy that I participated,” he explained. This also marks a first for Saudi women racing as four women competed for the first time in a car race.
“For the first time we have a ladies category. These opportunities will be better reflected in two to three years’ time but if anyone would ask where did it start, it started here in this 2018 season,” said the “Camaro King” Falah Al-Jarba.
Prince Mohammed is very welcoming of any new competitor to the racing industry.
“At the end of the day if you have two hands, two legs and can drive that’s what it comes down to regardless of your gender, your weight, your height or your size, it is all about how well you can perform under pressure,” he said.
Prince Khalid expects a better turnout for female participants in the next round of the race scheduled for Nov. 16. He added that there has been a great interest in joining the race and wanted to clarify that anyone who wants to take part in the race does not need to have a race car.