Grassroot project aims to produce Saudi Arabia’s first female Dakar driver

Grassroot project aims to produce Saudi Arabia’s first female Dakar driver
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The project aims to introduce the first female Saudi races to Dakar. (Supplied)
Grassroot project aims to produce Saudi Arabia’s first female Dakar driver
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The project aims to introduce the first female Saudi races to Dakar. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Grassroot project aims to produce Saudi Arabia’s first female Dakar driver

Grassroot project aims to produce Saudi Arabia’s first female Dakar driver
  • Reem Al-Aboud, a young racing driver and one of the program members, drove the first stage of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 from Jeddah to Al-Wajh
  • Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 takes place over 12 stages contested in 13 days

RIYADH: Dakar Rally organizers A.S.O. initiated a development project that aims to have female Saudi drivers take part in the 2021 edition of the challenging race.

A.S.O. worked with Saudi circuit racer Aseel Al-Hamad, who is also a board member of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and a representative of the FIA Women in Motorsports Commission.

Al-Hamad proposed a grassroot approach to put young Saudi talents in the driving seat and prepare them for next year’s edition of the desert adventure.

Reem Al-Aboud, a young racing driver and one of the program members, drove the first stage of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 from Jeddah to Al-Wajh. The 20-year-old is a club racer, whose passion for motorsport started with karting.

She also won the second place at Saudi Time Attack and was the first Saudi female to test the Formula-E car in Diriyah ABB Formula E in 2018.

Expressing her excitement to be part of the project, Al-Aboud said: “I never imagined how thrilling it would be. The experience is totally different from track racing. I now know that I would want to be a rally driver besides my passion for track racing. It will require a lot of training and dedication to gain proper experience, and I am up for it.”

Another female driver in the running to be the first female Saudi competitor at Dakar Rally is Dania Akeel. The 31-year-old biker got the first female Speed Bike Competition License issued by SAMF and competed in UAE National Sportsbike Super Series as well as the Bahrain BMR600 Championship.

Among the other names to feature in the program was 31-year-old dirt biker Mashael Al-Obaidan who recently obtained a sport driving license and will be competing in local rally championships while she looks forward to the headline race next year.

Following Al-Aboud’s drive from Jeddah to Al-Wajh in Stage 1, Al-Hamad drove the fifth stage from AlUla to Hail and the sixth stage from Hail to Riyadh, while Akeel was behind the wheel in Stage 7 from Riyadh to Wadi Al-Dawasir. Al-Obaidan, meanwhile, drove in Stage 8, which started from and ended in Wadi Al Dawasir.

“This is just the start. We are doing this to discover our local female talents, work with A.S.O. to train them with Patissier and prepare them to compete at Dakar Saudi Arabia 2021,” Al-Hamad said.

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 takes place over 12 stages contested in 13 days and sees 342 pilots from 62 countries drive nearly 8,000km of uncharted Saudi desert.

 


Like father, like sons: Equestrian family win more than medals at Saudi competition

Like father, like sons: Equestrian family win more than medals at Saudi competition
In the two-day event held at Jeddah’s Trio Ranch with more than 130 horses, Mohammed Al-Hadi and his two sons showed off their skills and secured first, second and third places across several rounds. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 38 min 55 sec ago

Like father, like sons: Equestrian family win more than medals at Saudi competition

Like father, like sons: Equestrian family win more than medals at Saudi competition
  • ‘Away from pursuing high scores in national and international championships, this sport is a continuous family legacy’

JEDDAH: A father and his two sons rode their way to victory in several rounds at the Saudi National Guard Ministry’s showjumping competition.

In the two-day event held at Jeddah’s Trio Ranch with more than 130 horses, Mohammed Al-Hadi and his two sons showed off their skills and secured first, second and third places across several rounds.
Al-Hadi, a national and international Saudi champion who grew up in Asir, has been riding horses both professionally and for leisure for more than 30 years. He began when he was a cadet at the King Faisal Military City near Khamis Mushayt, often participating in obstacle competitions and later advancing to compete in international competitions in the UAE, France and Belgium.
Speaking to Arab News, he said his love of equestrianism was something of a family legacy passed down from one generation to the next. “Away from pursuing achieving high scores in national and international championships, this sport is a continuous family legacy, and I have received huge support from my late father to reach where I am today, and I will do the same with my kids.


“I can see very promising careers in my two sons Khalid and Hasan, too.” he said.
Alongside their father, both sons competed in the showjumping competition, and in the small round on the first day of the competition, Khalid, the eldest, bested his father, placing first with 20 points on his French horse Doberlina Van de Kapel, while his younger brother Hasan came in second with 18 points. The fences were set at 1.15 meters for the small grade, where about 80 riders competed.
Expressing his joy after seeing his two boys excel in the sport, Al-Hadi said he was proud to see the dedication and heart of his sons, despite being challenged by Khalid in competitions.
“I was thrilled to have my son competing with me in the same round. Sometimes he wins over me, and sometimes I do. My son is very careful, precise and keen on bridging the time gap between us as the competition requires us to battle on the same level at times,” he said. “Family support is everything.”

BACKGROUND

• Equestrianism is one of the most sophisticated and complex sports in the world, requiring patience, commitment and the support of family.

• Mohammed Al-Hadi, a national and international Saudi champion who grew up in Asir, has been riding horses both professionally and for leisure for more than 30 years.

• He began when he was a cadet at the King Faisal Military City near Khamis Mushayt, often participating in obstacle competitions and later advancing to compete in international competitions in the UAE, France and Belgium.

Equestrianism is one of the most sophisticated and complex sports in the world, requiring patience, commitment and the support of family.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Khalid, 19, began his riding journey from the young age of 6, admiring the sport that gradually became a lifestyle and soon bloomed into a career.
He said that competing in the event alongside his brother and father was “unique” and that he felt a strong familial bond. In 2018, he got his first chance at winning big in a showjumping competition held in Sharjah, and this weekend, history repeated itself as he won first place in the open round on the final day of the competition.
He told Arab News how grateful he is for his sequence of achievements in the competition, and owed his win to his family and father’s constant support.
Khalid’s younger brother Hasan, 13, also came first in the beginner’s first round for equestrians aged under 15 years on his horse Juliano. He wants to become an international equestrian one day, and expressed his enthusiasm for the sport. “I won first place today, and just like my father, more is yet to come.”
Al-Hadi said that although the sport stimulates the passions of his two sons, he admits that he worries about them before big competitions. “Khalid and Hasan are always excited and sometimes impulsive, and that makes me a bit worried, but they have my support and I believe in their abilities. They’re skilled young men and I couldn’t be more proud.”