Female Saudi racing driver marks driving ban lift with lap of national circuit

By Rebecca Chaplin

Today the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia has been lifted and female racing driver Aseel Al Hamad has become one of the first women to enjoy her new right.

Al Hamad has driven on road and track around the globe in various cars, but never in Saudi Arabia. However, she has gone one step further by driving on track in her home country for the first time.

(PA)

Despite the law, she is the first woman to become a board member of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation and also represents Women in Motorsport for the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile).

From midnight (21:00 GMT, June 23) the ban was lifted, with Saudi Arabia being the last country in the world to enforce this restriction on female drivers.

The plan to allow women to drive was announced in September last year, and on June 5 the first women began receiving driving licenses.

Al Hamad’s passion for cars began at a very young age, but she never gave up on being able to drive and hoped one day she would be able to do it within her country’s boarders.

“My passion for driving started as a little girl. I always preferred playing with my brother’s cars rather than my own toys. Over the years my family have been a great influence in my life and always encouraged me to follow my dreams as a driver,” she said.

“Today was extremely emotional and I am so happy that I can show my success in my home land. I have waited all my life for this. I always believed one day this would happen. I’ve raced all around the world and to now be able to race here today and in the future makes me so proud.”