Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Thursday, December 5, 2019 10:55:00 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter
BREAKING NEWS:

After driving ban ends, Saudi women now head to race tracks

photo by AP photo

Rana Almimoni is defying the perception that only dainty cars in bright colours are popular with women.

By
29th-Aug-2018       
Share
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Print
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

AFP, Riyadh :
Donning a helmet inside a pearl silver sports sedan, Rana Almimoni skids and drifts around a Riyadh park, engine roaring, tyres screeching and clouds of dust billowing from the back.
For Saudi women, such adrenaline rushes were unimaginable just weeks ago.
Speed-crazed women drivers are bound to turn heads in the deeply conservative desert kingdom, which overturned the world's only ban on female motorists in June as part of a much-hyped liberalisation drive led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Almimoni, 30 and a motor racing enthusiast, is defying the perception-or sexist misconception, depending on who you ask-that only dainty cars in bright colours are popular with women drivers. "I adore speed. I love speed... My dream car is more than 500 horsepower," said Almimoni, slamming the accelerator of her silvery sleek Kia Stinger inside Riyadh's Dirab motor park. "It's a myth... that Saudi women only choose pink and cute cars."
Almimoni said she was awaiting an expected government decision that would permit women to obtain a "racing licence", which would allow her to hone her passion in motor-sport competitions.
That includes drifting-oversteering the car to slip and skid or even spin, and other high-speed daredevilry-which is illegal in public but tolerated in the controlled environment of Dirab park, whose private owners insist on safety.
Author Pascal Menoret's acclaimed book "Joyriding in Riyadh" described the high-octane Saudi obsession for drifting, long seen as a symbol of revolt among legions of restless youth, as all "about being a real man".
Now newly mobile Saudi women are embracing what was previously deemed a male entitlement-speed.
"Most of our enquiries (from women) are about drifting-how to learn drifting, which cars can they train on, how long will it take them" to drift, said instructor Falah al-Jarba as he watched Almimoni zip around the park. Auto showrooms tapping new women clients have rolled out a line-up of cherry red Mini Coopers, but sales professionals say many exhibit an appetite for muscle cars like the Camaro or the Mustang convertible.
Many new drivers seek inspiration from Aseel al-Hamad, the first female member of the kingdom's national motor federation, who got behind the wheel of a Formula One car in France in June to mark the end of the driving ban.
Clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts, a handful of women are also training to ride motorbikes at a Riyadh driving school, a scene that is still a stunning anomaly in the conservative petro-state.
Transport authorities have rolled out racing simulators to help first-time women drivers get a feel of being behind the wheel.
As a male traffic official demonstrated the importance of seatbelts by buckling up inside a car tethered to a flat platform and upturning the vehicle, some women zipped around twisted tracks in toy cars.
Another sat down behind the wheel of a simulator and instantly floored the accelerator, sending the speedometer soaring.
"I don't feel I'm in Saudi Arabia anymore," said Nagwa Mousa, a 57-year-old university professor in Riyadh.
"But I don't expect to see many women in Saudi Arabia overtaking and speeding in the streets anytime soon."
The driving reform is said to be transformative for women, freeing them from dependence on private chauffeurs or male relatives, but many are keeping off the streets.
"Congratulate me, finally saw a female driving! Although she is Bahraini but it counts as she is driving in Saudi land," comedian Yaser Bakr said on Twitter after the ban was lifted.

For now, most women drivers appear to be those who have swapped foreign licences for Saudi ones after undergoing a practical test.
Many complain that driving courses cost several times more than those available to men and that women instructors are in short supply.
While no overt incidents of street harassment have been reported publicly, many women are also wary of pervasive sexism and aggression from male drivers despite warnings from authorities.
Also testing nerves is the government's sweeping crackdown on women activists who long opposed the driving ban and a long-vilified system of male "guardians"-fathers, husbands or other male relatives, whose permission is required to travel or get married.
"The Saudi government is expanding entertainment options for Saudi women but eliminating space for political expression," said Kristin Diwan, of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
"Lady drifters can feel the speed but not free speech."
At least 12 leading human rights activists, including eight women, have been arrested in Saudi Arabia since May, according to Amnesty International.
The crackdown triggered a diplomatic brawl with Canada after Ottawa demanded the "immediate release" of those detained.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Cricket »

Tanvir elated to help Bangladesh make winning start in SA Games cricket


Left-arm spinner Tanvir Islam hogged the limelight with an intriguing show of spin bowling on a wicket that offered bounce and turn aplenty at the Kiritpur, Nepal as Bangladesh demolished Maldives by 109 runs in their opening game of South Asian Games male cricket discipline. The match is predicted to ...

International »

Iran in still ready for talks if US lifts sanctions


AFP, Tehran :Iran is willing to return to the negotiating table if the United States first drops sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, after a fuel price hike sparked deadly violence ahead of elections.European countries have been pushing for talks with Iran to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal that has ...

City »

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speaking at a prèss conference on price spiral of the essential commodities at the party's central office in the city's Naya Palton on Tuesday.


Cricket »

Winning start for Bangladesh in SA Games women's T20


BSS, Kathmandu :The Bangladesh women's cricket team got off to a flying start in the ongoing SA Games women's T20 cricket crushing Sri Lanka women's cricket team by seven wickets on Tuesday at Pokhara Stadium in Pokhara.Invited to bat first by Bangladesh, Sri Lanka rode on opener Umesha Thimashini, who ...

Editorial »

Catch big fishes involved in fake certificate business at DMCH


THE New Nation on Tuesday ran a report that selling of fake medical certificates has become a profitable business for a gang of employees working at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. It was revealed after members of Rapid Action Battalion arrested one of the gang members from the DMCH on ...

International »

Squabbles overshadow NATO 70th anniv summit


AFP, Watford :NATO leaders gather Tuesday for a summit to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary but with leaders feuding and name-calling over money and strategy, the mood is far from festive.The 29 allies will descend on London ready to lock horns over spending and how to deal with Russia in ...

Business & Economy »

A. T. Haque Ltd launches new production


Business Desk :A.T. Haque Limited, one of the largest and oldest biscuit manufacturers in the country, has launched "Mr. Cookie Lite" biscuit, a new production of the company, at the Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah Hall of National Press Club n the city.Executive Director of A. T. Haque Limited Quazi Touhiduzzaman ...

Entertainment »

Tiffany Haddish's condition to host Oscars 2020 is a hoot


American actor and comedian 'Tiffany Haddish' is making her bid for hosting the 2020 Oscars. During an appearance at a show last Saturday, the star revealed what the Academy Awards would look like if she were to host.  The 39-year-old actor said, "I would have it hot.It would be so ...

Entertainment »

Apu to give wedding news?


Entertainment Report :Apu Biswas, the popular actress of Dhallywood, is currently busy with films as well as her personal life. She was also seen on stage shows and corporate events. She once married Shakib Khan but later they got divorced. After that, Apu's marriage or affair news circulated many times ...

Editorial »

Crisis of unemployment among educated young ones is explosive but there is nobody to care


THE unemployment rate among the educated youth is quite high as much as 33.2 per cent in the country. Against the shrinking job market due to automation, skill-gap, and foreigners' dominance in managerial positions, the government's focus on employment generation is not visible. A recent research of Bangladesh Institute of ...

Football »

Iheanacho the hero as Leicester close gap on Liverpool


Kelechi Iheanacho was the unlikely hero as Leicester came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 and close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the Premier League to eight points.The Nigerian had not played a single minute of Premier League football this season prior to being summoned from the ...

International »

Climate crisis has reached ‘point of no return’: UN chief says


AFP, Madrid :The devastating impacts of global warming that threaten humanity are a pushback from Nature under assault, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Sunday ahead of a key climate conference."For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet, and now the planet is fighting back," he ...

International »

Thousands flee as Typhoon Kammuri churns towards Philippines


AFP, Manila :The Philippines was braced for powerful Typhoon Kammuri as the storm churned closer, forcing evacuations and threatening plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near the capital Manila.Kammuri is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the nation's east with heavy rains and wind gusts ...

Cricket »

Mashrafe to lead Dhaka Platoon in Bangabandhu BPL


Mashrafe Bin Mortaza will lead the Dhaka Platoon team during this year's Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), which begins on December 11.The Bangladesh ODI captain had back injury and also sustained a groin injury last month. But he has been on his way to recover from those injuries and has ...

Editorial »

Don't bow down to demons


THE transport owners backtracked from their earlier decision to arrange dope tests on the bus drivers to detect the presence of drug in their bodies fearing a turbulent situation. A few days back, Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association leaders at a special joint meeting of transport owners and workers announced ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news