Saudi Arabia’s first-ever women-only motorsport event is scheduled for March 17 to March 19. The inaugural Rally Jameel will feature 33 two-person teams, including seven competitors from the United States, that will drive in AWD and 4WD vehicles from such manufacturers as Toyota, Lexus, Ford, Jeep, and Porsche. Drivers will use vehicles considered “normal”, as opposed to “specially-equipped” off-road models.
“Taking part in Rally Jameel, for me, is an incredible way to support women who are new to the scene of off-roading and motorsports,” US-based competitor Sedona Blinson said. “I am most looking forward to competing with an array of international teams and navigating the beautiful deserts of Saudi Arabia. My goal is to inspire more women to try their hand in motorsports and embrace new adventures.”
Rally Jameel is not a speed-based event, rather it focuses on precision as the competitors will use navigation technology and a digital road book on a pre-defined route to garner the best daily and overall times. The 1,000 kilometer route goes from Ha’il to Riyadh, with teams traversing 300 to 500 kilometers each day.
Rally Jameel was initiated by Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), and the motorsport event is also organized by Bakhashab Motorsport. Rebelle Rally, the first women’s off-road navigation rally in the U.S., is supporting Rally Jameel.
On September 26, 2017, King Salman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia issued a decree permitting women in Saudi Arabia to drive for the first time. On June 24, 2018, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive.
“I believe this race will encourage women to participate in something new, and will help the increasing number of women on the country’s roads to feel even more comfortable behind the wheel,” said Saudi national Dania Akeel, who was the first Saudi to participate in Dakar Rally 2022. “It will help women to experience driving in a completely different way to driving on the road, inspiring a sense of adventure and discovery which adds to a fulfilling life experience.”