Saudi female bikers get ready to hit the road

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The institute is the first school in Saudi Arabia to offer motorbike training, not only to men but for women who have a passion for motorcycles. (Photos/Supplied)
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Updated 03 February 2020

Saudi female bikers get ready to hit the road

  • 43 women have enrolled in training courses organized by Ukrainian instructor in Riyadh

RIYADH: Although women drivers have become a common sight on the Kingdom’s streets, women bikers are rarely seen.

Contrary to common belief, riding a motorcycle is not that different to driving a car — regardless of gender — except that motorcycles give a sense of empowerment, freedom and an adrenaline rush. Some people believe that women motorcyclists are better equipped to ride motorbikes than their male counterparts because they drive more cautiously and strictly follow traffic rules.
Elena Bukaryeva, the experienced Ukrainian instructor based at the Riyadh-based Bikers Skill Institute, is the only trainer for women bikers in the Kingdom.
The institute is the first school in Saudi Arabia to offer motorbike training, not only to men but for women who have a passion for motorcycles.
Their specially designed courses for both beginners and advanced riders focus on safety, such as the Basic Motorcycle Riding, Smart Riding, Top Gun, Motogymkhana, Off-Road Trainings and Kids Motorcycle Schools courses, with fees ranging from SR750 ($200) to SR1,500.
“So far, 43 women bikers belonging to different nationalities — almost 20 of them Saudis, the rest Egyptians, Lebanese etc and even Europeans living in the Kingdom — have enrolled in our training courses after the ban on women driving was lifted,” Bukaryeva said.
The courses comply with international standards and consist of theoretical lessons to learn the basics of safety, teaching bikers to anticipate and manage risks, and include introductory information about motorbikes.
Bukaryeva said that the field training consisted of everything from gear shifts to emergency stops, U-turns and cornering.
The school generally trains on small motorcycles so that learners will be able to ride any type of bike. The duration of the course “depends on the time it takes each trainee to learn and master all the skills needed,” Bukaryeva said.
“The challenges and obstacles faced are only educational, based on the trainee’s commitment and understanding of the trainer’s instructions. However, there are no challenges related to harassment or honking of cars or bullying,” Bukaryeva said. “In fact, Saudi society has proved its ability to adapt and accept what’s new and useful. Ladies actually get full support and assistance, especially from male bikers.”
While Saudi women are building their skills at the Bikers Skills Institute, women bikers on the Kingdom’s roads are still a rare sight. “We don’t expect any increase in number, especially because women form only 3 percent of bikers in the world,” Bukaryeva said.
Bukaryeva said that the traffic department office had not yet issued licences for women bikers. “Our motorcycle training courses do not include obtaining the riding licence. Some eager trainees go to neighboring countries such as Bahrain to get their licence,” she said.

 


Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

Updated 22 October 2020

Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

  • Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias

JEDDAH: Saudi artists welcomed the Ministry of Culture’s first-of-its-kind 16/13 initiative, documenting the diversity of Saudi culture and art through a visual library.
The library will display 16 aspects of culture and heritage through photography and videography that represent the 13 regions of the Kingdom.
Researchers will go around Saudi Arabia to meet creatives, and study their work, for inclusion in the initiative.
“This is an important step for the Kingdom, and it’s a global one to document visual art, whether works of art or cinema,” Dia Aziz Dia, Saudi artist and sculptor, told Arab News.
He added: “It’s important because this creates a database and can be used as a reference to study and compare paintings, photography, sculpting and various types of art, how they differ from one region to the next.”
It could also let government bodies discover art worthy of being put into museums for display, said Dia.
“It’s a good way to document history as well, and to study works of art and the standards of art here,” he said. “It’s on a global level and it’s done everywhere in the world, from England to the US.”
Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias.
He also said it was not easy to compile these works. “It’s an elaborate process to be able to get hold of all the works across the Kingdom. It’s an operation that requires organization, extensive studying and the cooperation of the Society of Culture and Arts and artists as well.”
Saad Tahaitah, documentary filmmaker and photographer, told Arab News that the initiative was promising. He was exposed to it through Saudi photographer Nawaf Al-Shehri, who has been traveling to help with the documentation process.
“The ministry’s been doing an incredible job; they’re (Nawaf and his team) going around the Kingdom and filming content for an actual library,” he said.
Tahaitah has worked on numerous short films on his own to depict the culture and heritage of Asir region, in the southwest of the country. He said he would not trade it for any other place and wished only to film in his hometown.
“I got into documentaries because I wanted honest storytelling. I didn’t want to write a script and hire actors, although that works for some,” he said. “The way I’ve been doing film is to let the person I’m filming go about their day and I let my camera roll.”
Tahaitah started documenting Asir because he wanted to dispel the misconceptions about it, and the stereotypes created through media like “Tash Ma Tash,” the famous Saudi comedy show.
“Asir is full of natural beauty and scenery to capture. It’s diverse in its sights and the people who live in it. Every once in a while, I realize there’s a thing I never noticed before and I film it, and I’ve lived here all my life. The way of life here, simply, can inspire you,” he said.
He added: “We don’t have one particular dance or only sit and dine in a huddle. In a way, I just wanted to showcase the reality of Asir because I love it.”
He said that this initiative could correct inaccuracies shared about certain areas in the Kingdom.