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F1 coming to Jeddah is a ‘dream’ for Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver

Published: Updated:

The Formula One Grand Prix coming to Saudi Arabia is a dream come true for the Kingdom’s first female racing driver.

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Reema Juffali shared her excitement and disbelief about the event coming to her home city of Jeddah, in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

“It’s something that’s been my world and what I’ve been doing for so long, and I associate it with places outside of Saudi.

“The fact that it’s in Saudi and we’re hosting it in my home city, it’s unbelievable. It’s just a bit of a dream.”

The 29-year-old racer first fell in love with the sport at the age of 22 when studying abroad in the US.

She would watch Formula One on television and soon decided that she wanted to give it a try.

In 2018, after Saudi Arabia had legalized driving for women, Reema came back to the Kingdom and became the first woman to compete with a Saudi racing license.

Her first event was an amateur race in the United Arab Emirates.

“I was just hooked,” she said. “The support of my family, friends, and Saudi as well, pushed me to take this a to a next step and a step further and do it more seriously and spend more time on it.”

Juffali played down the constraints of being a woman in such a male-dominated sport, emphasizing the competitive nature of racing.

“Once you're behind the wheel, you're all competitors so it kind of doesn't matter what gender you are. And that's the nice thing about the sport. It unites both.”

At the same time, she recognizes that she is emblematic of wider social changes for women in Saudi society.

“There is a bit of a responsibility to educate and allow women to dream about this as a possibility, as a field that they can actually be a part of.”

Juffali is not competing in this year’s Formula One, which will take place between December 3 and 5 at Jeddah’s street circuit, but she will show off her skills in a hot lap.

Read more:

First Saudi female racer appointed ambassador for F1 GP

Saudi Arabia’s F1 Grand Prix launches competition to inspire young racing stars

Tickets for Saudi Arabia’s first ever Formula One race go on sale: Sports ministry

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