First Saudi woman obtains autocross trainer license

Afnan Almarglani
Afnan Almarglani
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Updated 11 June 2022

First Saudi woman obtains autocross trainer license

Afnan Almarglani
  • ‘I feel indescribably proud that I was able to achieve one of my biggest ambitions,’ says biomedical engineer

JEDDAH: After a number of years of competing in various local autocross competitions, Afnan Almarglani recently became the first Saudi woman to hold an autocross and safe driving skills trainer license.

Her journey in the sport began when her motor sports-mad brother brought home a brand new PlayStation when they were growing up. The two competed in video games such as Gran Turismo 3, a racing title.

“From when I was young, I used to see my older brother Fahd interested in sports cars, modifying them and buying car parts from abroad. We used to race with each other in video games. I was so fascinated by cars, by the shape of the cars, the sound of engines and how they were driven incredibly fast. I played the game every day until it got to the point that I couldn’t beat my own fastest lap times,” she said.

Almarglani works in biomedical engineering. She previously took part in the first women’s race in Saudi Arabia during time off from her work at a project management office at the Ministry of Health.

One of the difficulties which I faced was the criticism of our society, the fact that a girl enters the field of cars which is dominated by men. But now the situation is developing and changing.

Afnan Almarglani

Her blending of roles as a biomedical engineer and racer makes her unique, and her talent in both careers has allowed her to take opportunities that most women do not have.

Almarglani, who holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from a US university, told Arab News that her love and passion led her to work with sports cars, and that she chose to enter the field to gain experience.

She said: “Medical engineering is one of the most beautiful and rare disciplines in the world, because it combines engineering and medicine, which results in solutions to healthcare problems. Because of the amount of pressure and stress that I face in my work, I need to unload my energy, and enjoy and practice my hobby in motorsports.

“Alhamdulillah, we live in a great country with the decision to allow women to drive. So, I participated in the first women’s autocross championship and won second place in the qualifying round,” she added.

After her first foray into the sport, Almarglani took part in various local autocross championships held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar. “After gaining experience and skills, I moved to a higher level in the autocross racing, which enabled me to take part in the Toyota Autocross Championship in Alkhobar, and I was able to win the best time in the women’s category.”

She also competed in the Speed ​​Madness (Autocross) Championship in Riyadh’s Dirab Park, placing first.

When asked about the challenges she faces as a woman in motorsports, Almarglani said: “Like any hobby you practice, you need training and knowledge of the basics. In the beginning, it was somehow difficult for me, especially since there were no academies for women, but without the efforts and support of my colleagues in the circuit, I would not have reached this level I am at right now.”

She added: “One of the difficulties which I faced also was the criticism of our society, the fact that a girl enters the field of cars which is dominated by men. But now the situation is developing and changing, especially when women are becoming more involved in the sport of auto racing starting at a young age and training determinedly to become professional drivers.”

The other biggest challenge for Almarglani is finding sponsorship opportunities. “Motor sports is an expensive sport and finding a sponsor is very difficult, so to maintain that training and to have a good team, and a good car, requires a lot of investment and you need both if you want to do well. The way to find sponsorship is through exposure and by winning races,” she said.

Almarglani is often asked how her parents feel about the dangers of her sport. She said: “Of course, at first, they were concerned about me, especially that motor sports has risks, so the level of safety in it is high, and it is expensive in terms of preparing the driver and the car. After I explained to my family all the means of protection and safety, and after they observed my passion and happiness after each race, they supported me and told me to continue, and they were always in the first ranks to encourage me.”

Recently, the official account of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, via Twitter, congratulated Almarglani for obtaining a training license.

She said: “I feel indescribably proud that I was able to achieve one of my biggest ambitions, thanks to God, and then thanks to Vision 2030, which empowered Saudi women and made them able to move forward in writing their achievements.”

Almarglani’s goal is to support every woman who wants to enter motor sports and to build a professional women’s motor sports team to represent Saudi Arabia in the world championships. “To achieve this goal, I hope there will be sponsorships offered to me as well as other Saudi female drivers in order to participate locally and regionally, to represent our beloved country.”


Saudi Arabia warns global humanitarian crisis will escalate in 2023

Saudi Arabia warns global humanitarian crisis will escalate in 2023
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia warns global humanitarian crisis will escalate in 2023

Saudi Arabia warns global humanitarian crisis will escalate in 2023
  • Aqil Al-Ghamdi from KSrelief said the areas worst affected by the escalating crisis will be the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region, the Great Lakes, Haiti and Ukraine
  • He was speaking at a high-level meeting of the donor support group for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in New York

NEW YORK: Humanitarian needs will increase worldwide in the year ahead, Saudi aid experts warn, requiring solidarity among the international community and the continued support of donors within the UN, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Aqil Al-Ghamdi, the assistant supervisor general director for planning and development at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, also known as KSrelief, said the areas worst affected by the escalating crisis will be the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region, the Great Lakes, Haiti and Ukraine.

Their situations will get worse because of factors such as economic disparity, climate change, food shortages, rising prices of fuel and fertilizer, the COVID-19 pandemic, ebola and cholera outbreaks, all of which will have crippling effects on the humanitarian situation.

He was speaking at a high-level meeting of the donor support group for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in New York on Wednesday.

Al-Ghamdi, who chaired the meeting, said the OCHA will have to confront greater challenges in 2023, which will require a united response and the continued support of the group. He gave details of the OCHA’s strategic plan for the period 2023 to 2026, and the office’s budget for coming year. He praised the progress it has made, especially with regard to setting priorities and establishing a budget steering committee to help allocate resources based on levels of need.

Joyce Msuya, OCHA’s assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, said the office appreciates the offers by members of the donor group to mobilize their support, especially in terms of funding, in light of the economic conditions that most countries are experiencing and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She stressed the office’s efforts to use available resources efficiently.

Julie Billings, head of strategic planning, budgeting and finance at the OCHA, discussed the office’s 2023 budget and some of the steps it is taking. She said it constantly evaluates its bureaus around the world to establish financial needs, and reduces the support to areas in which the humanitarian situation has improved so that the funding can be transferred to address priority needs elsewhere.

Al-Ghamdi, the head of the donor group and the Kingdom’s representative on it, thanked the OCHA representatives and the members of the donor group for attending the two-day meeting and their valuable contributions. He invited them to the fourth meeting of the high-level group, which is scheduled to take place in Riyadh in February, alongside the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum.


Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Saturday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Saturday
Updated 09 December 2022

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Saturday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Saturday

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia on Thursday called on the public to exercise caution over the coming days as weather warnings have been issued in several regions across the Kingdom.

The General Directorate of Civil Defense chances of thunderstorms have been forecast on Friday and Saturday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The authority warned of moderate to heavy rains and active winds in the capital Riyadh, Hail, Qassim and the Eastern Province. It also warned some areas may experience flooding.

It also said the regions of Al-Jouf, and the Northern Borders Province will be affected by moderate rains, while thunderclouds accompanied by active winds are expected to continue to form in Asir, Jazan, and Al-Baha.

The warnings were issued based on data received from the National Center of Meteorology.

The civil defense called on everyone to be wary of the severe conditions, to stay away from places that could flood and electricity poles, and to abide by the civil defense’s instructions and updates announced through media and social media outlets.


‘From the East to the East’ art exhibition in Riyadh bridges Arab and Chinese cultures

‘From the East to the East’ art exhibition in Riyadh bridges Arab and Chinese cultures
Updated 09 December 2022

‘From the East to the East’ art exhibition in Riyadh bridges Arab and Chinese cultures

‘From the East to the East’ art exhibition in Riyadh bridges Arab and Chinese cultures
  • Palace of Culture event features 40 works by Arab artists sharing their impressions of China
  • Arab-Chinese music and dance fusion and a live art show dubbed a “symbol of our unity”

RIYADH: While bolstering trade ties and strategic cooperation during President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and China have also prioritized cross-cultural exchange to help cement the diplomatic relationship.

On the sidelines of Xi’s visit, an event titled “From the East to the East and the Selected Exhibition of Famous Arab Artists Visiting China” was held in the Palace of Culture to showcase the work of Arab and Chinese artists and musicians. 

Sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Arab League, in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Information, the event featured a traditional Ardah performance and a Chinese dance routine. 

With the faint sounds of the Chinese musical strings of the zheng, the Arabic version of the string instrument, the qanun, and the oud, a trio of Saudi and Chinese performers created a unique fusion of sounds. 

Since 2009, more than 170 well-known artists from 21 Arab countries have been invited to visit the People’s Republic by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China. The artists turned what they saw, felt and thought into more than 500 paintings, sculptures and ceramic works.

The exhibition features 40 of these works by an assortment of Saudi, Libyan, Algerian, Palestinian, Egypian, Bahraini, Iraqi and Jordanian artists alongside works by Chinese artist who visited Arab countries. 

It features Chinese paintings of Manama and Amman, and one of an Egyptian man with a camel, decorated with colorful strings and bells, against the iconic backdrop of the Pyramids of Giza.

Influences of the ancient Silk Road were also evident in several of the artworks and large screens covering the walls showing Chinese and Arabic calligraphy and heritage objects. 

The exhibition was organized by Bauhinia Culture Holdings Limited, executed by China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd., supported by the China Artists Association.

A live art show also took place, highlighting the distinctive architecture of the Great Wall of China and Diriya’s Salwa Palace. 

“I found similarities in the way rock and stone was used here and in my country,” Chinese painter Wang Haikun told Arab News. 

“These similarities prompted me to apply it to my side of the mural as a symbol of our unity.”
 


Saudi forum marks International Anti-Corruption Day

Saudi forum marks International Anti-Corruption Day
Updated 09 December 2022

Saudi forum marks International Anti-Corruption Day

Saudi forum marks International Anti-Corruption Day

JEDDAH: The 11th International Anti-Corruption Day Forum, organized by the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), has concluded with the participation of several experts from the government and private sectors.

Titled “Corruption Risks Management in the Public Sector: Experiences, Challenges and Solutions,” the forum was inaugurated by Bandar AbalKhail, Nazaha’s vice president for protecting integrity, supervisor of oversight, investigation and combating corruption.

The official said that marking International Anti-Corruption Day was based on the Kingdom’s keenness to raise awareness against the threat of corruption, adding that efforts to eliminate it are being undertaken through cooperation at all levels.

He said: “The directives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stress that corruption is the cause of many great problems, and what matters to us today is to be at the forefront of countries in combating corruption and to achieve the lowest rates of corruption globally.

“This approach is consistent with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which confirms that transparency and combating corruption is its main pillar to strengthen the principles of accountability in the public and private sectors, and to never tolerate corruption at all levels.”


Riyadh Season activities entertain 6m

Riyadh Season activities entertain 6m
Updated 08 December 2022

Riyadh Season activities entertain 6m

Riyadh Season activities entertain 6m

RIYADH: Riyadh Season recorded six million visitors since its launch on Oct. 21, organizers have said.

The pace of entertainment has increased in its various zones, with international events and shows, concerts and festivals for local and international visitors.

The activities have been offered in The Groves, Riyadh Sky, Little Riyadh, Al Murabba, Qariat Zaman, Riyadh Zoo, Fun Festival, Boulevard World, Boulevard Riyadh City, Winter Wonderland, Riyadh Front and Al-Suwaidi Park, whose activities ended on Monday.

During the last month, the turnout for the activities of Riyadh Season doubled with the opening of its largest area, Boulevard World, which includes 10 cultural subzones, in addition to themed experiences from different countries around the world.