Saudi Arabia will soon host its first-ever off-road navigation rally for female drivers, having come a long way since announcing the end of the driving ban in 2017. Titled Rally Jameel, it is the first of its kind in the Arab world, and will take place from March 17-19, with a 900km route that starts in Hail, passing through Al Qassim, and ending in Riyadh.
In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030—of which women empowerment is an integral pillar—the rally will not be a race of speed, but will test participants on their precise navigation skills. The challenging route, which is set to vary by 300 to 500km per day, will feature elements of headings, hidden checkpoints, time, distance, and strategy using navigation systems, and road books. Participation is limited to 20 women drivers who will be selected by the organizing committee, with teams of two (driver and an assistant) driving unmodified manufactured four-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicles. So far, 34 teams from 15 countries have signed up to take part in the rally, with drivers ranging from seasoned veterans to beginners.
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The rally was announced by Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, the authorized distributor of Toyota in Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the launch, Munir Khoja, managing director, marketing communications at Abdul Latif Jameel Motors Saudi Arabia, stated: “We are proud today to launch Rally Jameel which will set new benchmarks for women’s motorsports in the Kingdom.” He added: “By organizing Rally Jameel we aim to achieve our higher national goals, as the event will draw the attention of motorsports enthusiasts across the globe to our cities that will host this rally — which is a great opportunity for them to see the Kingdom’s cultural and historical dimensions, and its expansive tourism opportunities.”
Rally Jameel is not the only “first for women” sports event to take place in Saudi Arabia recently. December 2021 also saw Saudi women and girls of all ages come together for the first-of-its-kind cross-country running event organized by the Saudi Athletic Federation in Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sport City Stadium. Roa Kattan, a member of the federation’s technical committee, said, “It is an official championship to encourage women to participate and discover Saudi girls who would be able to represent the Kingdom as individuals or in teams.”