Reema Juffali, 27-year-old racing driver, will compete this Friday and Saturday in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, a one-make series in Diriyah, close to the capital of Saudi Arabia. “The fact that I am doing it is amazing,” said Juffali, talking about her recently-begun motorsport career.
Juffali comes from the city of Jeddah, completing her education in the United States. She will participate in the championship as a “VIP” guest driver, becoming the first Saudi woman to race on home soil.
Reema Juffali, the first woman Saudi driver to race on home soil.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, Sports Authority Chief of Saudi Arabia, called the occasion as a “watershed” moment for the kingdom. “Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver,” said the prince.
Juffali made her debut in motorsports at the British F4 Championship at Brands Hatch in April this year, earning close to a year of professional racing experience under her belt. She has had a passion for motorsports since her early years, growing up watching Formula One. Having passed her driving test after moving to the United States, she is among a handful of Saudi women to have acquired a “racing licence” in the kingdom.
She explains, “For a lot of women who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to drive, to get behind the wheel is definitely something scary. For a lot of women in Saudi it’s something so far away.”
Juffali says her goal is to one day race at Le Mans, the world’s premier 24-hour endurance race held in France every year. At the Diriyah Jaguar eTrophy, she will be battling the track against the season’s veterans, but will not be contesting for points.
Holding racing experience from the British F4 Championship, Juffali will race at Diriyah to promote opportunities for women in motorsports.
However, Juffali’s breakthrough points to the change slowly seeping through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Women were finally allowed to drive in the kingdom from June 2018. Since then, various parts of the society have been empowering them to expand their aspirations and goals. Automotive firms, in particular, have been supportive of the move, with the firm belief that women hold half of the available talent pool, be it any industry.
News like Juffali’s reinforces our belief that including women in the automotive and motorsport industry only enriches the ecosystem, providing it with a new perspective. At AMENA, we are supportive and inclusive of the role of women in the automotive industry, hosting events like the Women In Automotive Forum that promotes this initiative.