Saudi female racer Reema Juffali set for F4 UK championship debut at Brands Hatch

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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
Updated 04 April 2019

Saudi female racer Reema Juffali set for F4 UK championship debut at Brands Hatch

  • Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing
  • Juffali, on debut, was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence

LONDON: Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship debut at Brands Hatch at the weekend.

Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing with her teammates Louis Foster and Sebastian Alvarez.

Having made her debut in racing in October 2018, a few months after the Kingdom lifted the ban on women driving and started issuing licences in June of the same year, Jeddah-born Juffali said she was excited about the coming year ahead.

“In terms of being from Saudi Arabia, it’s such a great thing for me to do and represent my country,” she said, highlighting her pride at representing Saudi Arabia. She also thanked her family, friends and fans for their support thus far.

“It’s a great honor for me. It’s something I didn’t really think about until quite late in life, I want to say maybe about three or four years ago that I started thinking about the idea of racing. To be here today is quite unbelievable and to have done it in such a short space of time, I’m very grateful and happy about that," she told the British F4 website.

“It’s a good time in Saudi to be doing such a thing and all the support I’ve gotten from friends, family, people I don’t even know, has been fantastic and it’s only been pushing me to do better.

“Brands Hatch is the heart of motorsport. It’s going to be a tough year in such a competitive championship, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she added.

Juffali, who studied in the US before moving back to the Kingdom, was announced as Double R Racing's latest addition to the team in March – and having joined the UK-based set-up, she said: “I’m happy to be joining Double R Racing, a championship-winning team with such a great history, and to be competing in British F4 where many great drivers have started."

Juffali was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence on her debut and the first Saudi female to compete in the TRD 86 Cup at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Team principal Anthony Hieatt said: “We’re really looking forward to working with Reema in British F4 this year and delighted she’s joined Double R for her first full season of racing at any level.

“I know there’s a huge amount for her to learn – the car, the style of racing and all of the British tracks which are very unique – but Reema has shown a great deal of promise already.

“It’s fantastic to be working with someone who is breaking down barriers as Reema is, and has been over the past few months, since she decided to start racing.”

The F4 championship is a multi-event, open-wheel single seater championship held at various racetracks across the UK between April and October.


Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Updated 20 August 2019

Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

  • Dalma Malhas ‘honored’ to be part of national team
  • Equestrian star began riding aged four

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star Dalma Malhas is counting down to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by competing in a series of crucial qualifying events.

Malhas, who has been riding since the age of four, told Arab News that she was honored to be part of the Saudi national team after “years of work and dedication.”

Next month she and her fellow showjumpers head to Morocco to take part in a series of qualifying events.

The 10th edition of the Morocco Royal Tour takes place in three cities — Tetouan, Rabat, and Eljadida —  on three consecutive weekends. The top two teams, based on their results, will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Malhas wants to be at the prestigious sporting event in Japan. 

“The work that has been done in the past few years will manifest itself now and I’m enjoying what I’ve been working on ... I believe in destiny and hard work,” she told Arab News. “Anything could happen, but I’m hopeful and trying to focus on peak performance because it is important that, when it comes to the horse and myself, we want to be there, energetic and motivated.”

She was the first female athlete from the Kingdom to compete at an Olympic-level event, riding at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore and winning a bronze medal. She participated in the 14-18 age group, becoming only the third Saudi athlete to snag an Olympic medal.

She said it was easy to buy a horse that was already trained and compete with it. But the challenge for her was to get an inexperienced horse and train him from scratch.

“I dedicated time, effort and energy. I had a vision of how he could be and transformed him into a skilled and talented horse, and step-by-step I followed that. You build a strong partnership when you go through that process. It’s an affinity you can’t really buy. This is a very big part of horsemanship and one of my biggest achievements since the Youth Olympic Games. It’s priceless, having a combination and partnership like this.”

Malhas was born in 1992. Her mother, Arwa Mutabagani, is a prominent equestrian and has been a board member at the Saudi Equestrian Federation since 2008. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Malhas has had a thoroughly international upbringing. At 12 she moved with her mother from Saudi Arabia to Rome to train with her under Italy’s former showjumping national coach, Duccio Bartalucci, spending a decade under his tutelage.

After studying and training in Italy she joined a two-year professional program at the Fursan Equestrian Center in Chantilly, France. She has been training with Olympic champion Roger Yves Bost since 2016. 

She started 2019 by participating in several tournaments, crisscrossing Europe and gradually moving up the leaderboard. 

She has won several awards to date, including Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, and can be regarded as a pioneer and role model.

Malhas said there were great opportunities for Saudi women in the fields of sports and equestrianism. She talked about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and how it empowered women. She also saw an opportunity to become more involved. 

“I want to give back too. I’ve been mostly focused on showjumping and training, so hopefully I’ll start giving back and contribute to society and motivate my peers in the country. I don’t mind though I’ve been enjoying the ride and after years of work I’m finally being rewarded in the best way possible.”