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Saudi woman steers F1 car as driving ban dies in ultra-conservative kingdom

02:58 PM | 25 Jun, 2018
Saudi woman steers F1 car as driving ban dies in ultra-conservative kingdom
JEDDAH - In an unprecedented move, a Saudi woman drove a Renault Formula One car around the French Grand Prix circuit on Sunday, declaring the start of a new era for women of the holy kingdom in motorsport.

Aseel Al-Hamad's public performance coincided with a day, Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on the driving of woman - in line with the vision of ambitious Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

“I believe today is not just celebrating the new era of women starting to drive, it’s also the birth of women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia,” she told Reuters in happiness.

The businesswoman expressed that the most important thing she was looking forward to is to start seeing the next generation, young girls, trying motorsport

But Sunday's escapade was not the first one for Al-Hamad as he had driven a Formula One car at the circuit on June 5 as part of a familiarization day.

However, what sets apart the latest adventure is that it was a public event, with scores of bystanders waving hands and cheering up as part of a parade of the French manufacturer’s historic racing cars to mark the return of Formula One to France after a 10-year absence.

The car which barreled down the down was also of prominence as it took 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen to victory in Abu Dhabi in November 2012.

“It was perfect. Everything was smooth, I felt I belong in the seat, I loved the fact that there was an audience is magical.” the lady said, his voice catching with emotion.

The designer expressed that the beauty of this story was that everything is possible.

"Even if you dream the impossible you can still achieve it," she said.

Al-Hamad has multiple feathers in her cap as she is the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation and on the Women in Motorsport Commission set up by Formula One’s governing body - the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Moreover, she is also the first woman to import a Ferrari into Saudi Arabia and has taken her 458 Spider to racetracks around the world to take part in track days, workshops and professional racing courses.

The passionate lady revealed that her mission was to have female Saudi racing drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Reacting to Al-Hamad's stunt, Michele Mouton, a former rally driver and president of the FIA’s commission, said in a statement she hoped the example would help pave the way for more Saudi women to get involved.

Women in Saudi Arabia had been barred to get behind the wheels on the Oil-rich kingdom's roads, however, in a dramatic shift, the policy was reversed which became effective on Sunday.

The lifting, ordered last September by King Salman, is part of sweeping reforms proposed by his powerful 32-year-old son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is poised to steer the kingdom, anytime soon.

The writer is a civil servant.


Currency Rates in Pakistan Today - Pakistani rupee to US Dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 19 April 2024

Pakistani currency saw minor adjustment against global currencies on April 19, 2024. US dollar was being quoted at 277.4 for buying and 280.4 for selling.

Euro comes down to 293 for buying and 296 for selling while British Pound stands at 342.25 for buying, and 345.65 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.2 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 19 April 2024

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 277.4 280.4
Euro EUR 293 296
UK Pound Sterling GBP 342.25 345.65
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.2 75.9
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.3 74.05
Australian Dollar AUD 181 182.8
Bahrain Dinar BHD 740.09 748.09
Canadian Dollar CAD 201 203
China Yuan CNY 38.44 38.84
Danish Krone DKK 39.69 40.09
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.53 35.88
Indian Rupee INR 3.33 3.44
Japanese Yen JPY 1.86 1.94
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 902.64 911.64
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.08 58.68
New Zealand Dollar NZD 164.22 166.22
Norwegians Krone NOK 25.31 25.61
Omani Riyal OMR 722.87 730.87
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 76.45 77.15
Singapore Dollar SGD 204.5 206.5
Swedish Korona SEK 25.31 25.61
Swiss Franc CHF 305.08 307.58
Thai Bhat THB 7.56 7.71


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