JEDDAH: With the inaugural Rally Jameel now underway, the organizing team is now busy looking after the competitors, running the rally route and ensuring everyone stays safe during the event. Among the large organizing team is a number of women working to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.
Under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which recognises that a modern and progressive nation must encourage and empower all members of society, women have been heavily involved behind the scenes at Rally Jameel, an initiative by Abdul Latif Jameel Motors. Some hold key roles that are critical to the event’s daily operation and overall success.
“I am the chief medical officer at the rally, so I’m responsible for the medical safety of all the participants and organizers of the rally,” said Dr. Ahad Al-Saud, who as well as being a senior doctor in Saudi Arabia, is also the chief medical officer of the Saudi Arabian F1 Grand Prix, the FIA medical delegate for Saudi Arabia and the head of the Saudi Arabian Marshall’s Club.
“I want the rally to be very successful, with all the competitors finishing safely. I feel they are so lucky to be competing in Rally Jameel, as Jameel in Arabic means ‘beautiful’ and this is really a beautiful rally.”
Not all of the organizers have a background in motorsports, or even sporting events. For some of the women involved behind the scenes, this is their very first experience of racing and rallying of any kind. For them, Rally Jameel is providing an exciting new experience.
“This event is very important at a grassroots level to bring women not normally associated with rallying or racing into the sport,” said Aseel Al-Hamad, the well-known figurehead of women in motorsport, the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation and a member of the FIA.
Rally Jameel has been supported by the FIA’s Women In Motorsport Commission, and the aim of the rally is to develop and bring in new women drivers, navigators and organizers, and prepare them for participating in future local and international championships.
Before the rally, all of the teams went through a rigorous training program to prepare for the event. The training, which was partly conducted by experienced women from the wider motorsport world, covered everything from road book navigation to safety, sand recovery and general tips on how to complete what for some is their first-ever driving event.
The inspiration for Rally Jameel came initially from the hugely successful Rebelle Rally in America. With that as a benchmark, the organizers have worked with members of the Rebelle organizing team to both bring in competitors from the US and also to help with some of the organization of the rally. Members of the event team even traveled all the way to Saudi Arabia for the rally.
“I’m thrilled to be part of Rally Jameel, helping as one of the stewards of the event. It’s really important to show support at a pivotal moment for women in Saudi Arabia,” commented Emily Miller, founder and director of the Rebelle Rally.
“It’s also great to work with the rally’s organizers, as we have a truly shared passion for motorsport and adventure, as well as the drive to elevate women. I’m really excited for Rally Jameel’s future.”
The navigational rally, which is not designed as a speed test, started in the north-central city of Hail and is heading to the sites of Qassim city. It will then move on to the capital, Riyadh, via hidden checkpoints and challenges.
The local public are being urged to get involved and enjoy what is looking to be a popular event on the annual GCC motorsport calendar.