Late last year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that they will be putting an end to the driving ban on women. It's been months since the Kingdom made that announcement and June 24, 2018 marked the day Saudi women can get behind the wheel legally.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, Saudi racing driver Aseel Al Hamad drove a Jaguar F-Type at the Reem International Circuit in Riyadh for her 'first drive' in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Prior to the driving ban being lifted, Al Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi Arabia Motorsport Federation, has already raced in numerous tracks elsewhere in the world, that is except in her own country. That day, she was able to blast around the ribbon of asphalt in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“Having loved cars since I was a child, today is highly emotional for me. This is the best driving moment of my life. What better way to kick off World Driving Day than a lap of honour in my home country in a Jaguar F-Type – the ultimate car to roar around the track. I hope people around the world will share in our joy today by sharing their most memorable driving story using World Driving Day,” said the lady racer. She later added that she felt 'free as a bird' doing laps around the track.
Prior to that, Al Hamad drove a Formula 1 car ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard. For that brief stint, she piloted a Renault Sport E20, the same car driven by Kimi Raikkonen during the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which he subsequently won.
With that, 60 years of women not being allowed to drive cars in the Kingdom has finally ended. Prior to this, Saudi Arabia held the distinction of being the only country in the world which does not allow women to drive. The lifting of the said ban is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 which includes women empowerment, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the ambassador of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 also seeks to give women in the kingdom more job opportunities, as well as increasing the number of women in the workforce.