Abdul Latif Jameel Motors is making history. Its latest initiative, Rally Jameel, is a women’s only rally, the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Launched in an effort to encourage more women into the world of motorsport and navigational rally driving, the event is part of a larger vision of women empowerment programs championed by the family-owned, globally diversified business Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) and inspired by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The principal concept is this: that for a modern nation to thrive, it must empower the women of its society in all sectors, including sports.
This is how Rally Jameel is inspiring women across the world and why ALJ’s Deputy President and Vice Chairman, Hassan Jameel, sees this as a venture that has the power to drive positive social change.
Rally Jameel: A Historic Event
“I’m a daughter, a wife and mother, as well as being a surgeon. But my passion for rallies started at a very young age…” Dr Fatima Bananz is the driver for the Desert Healers, one of the teams that competed in Rally Jameel. She is one of many female racers from Saudi Arabia who took part in the inaugural event. For her, the rally opened up a wealth of new experiences and fueled her desire to continue competing in her sporting field. “My aim is eventually to race in the Dakar rally,” she says.
Rally Jameel is a navigational rally, designed to challenge the driving and navigating skills of the participants, as opposed to testing their speed. In a first for the nation, all 34 teams were made up of female drivers and co-drivers. Together, the women covered 1,105 kilometers over three days, tackling both on-road and off-road terrain, as well as a series of hidden checkpoints and challenges. The route began in the city of Hail and concluded in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, at the Rally HQ, the location of the newly opened Shaqra University. On the way, the rally passed by some of the region’s most interesting historical sites, including UNESCO world heritage site Jubba.
An Incredible Opportunity
All the women drawn to Rally Jameel differ in their backgrounds and aspirations but have one thing in common: a passion for racing. Another Saudi Arabian inspired to take part was Nujood Zahid, from the Urban Bedouin team. Zahid was the first person to sign up for the rally, applying online just three minutes after the website opened for applications. “When I first heard about Rally Jameel I thought this is really of interest to me…the idea of racing against other women that share the same passion was an incredible opportunity. I’m very excited to be part of it.”
The empowerment of women comes in many forms, but access to new opportunities is key. In establishing Rally Jameel, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors has created a unique platform for women to challenge themselves, make fruitful connections, and reach new heights of rallying success, all the while inspiring younger generations of female drivers and motorsports enthusiasts along the way.
Hassan Jameel explains that the motorsports event was inspired by Saudi Arabia’s mission to empower women under Vision 2030. While Abdul Latif Jameel Motors is “honored to help drive women’s participation in sports through Rally Jameel”, Hassan Jameel recognizes that this mission for empowerment does not end with the conclusion of the first rally. Abdul Latif Jameel Motors is committed to building on the event’s success and further supporting the progressive transformation of Saudi Arabia.
Change on a Global Scale
This progress in women empowerment is not limited to Saudi Arabia, either. The first Rally Jameel, which took place on 17-19 March 2022, welcomed teams from all over the world, representing a total of 15 countries and 4 continents. In bringing together women from many geographical backgrounds to share this significant experience, the event reflects ALJ’s global reach.
Despite the business’ proud Saudi Arabian roots, ALJ has diversified into several sectors around the world and now has a strong presence in 30 countries. For the family-owned enterprise, the purpose of its endeavors cannot be purely profit-based. The Jameel Family also carefully engages in a wide-variety of philanthropic activities.
The Future of Women in Motorsports
As all teams crossed the finish line safely, the first-ever Rally Jameel proved a resounding success for the individuals who took part, each displaying, in Hassan Jameel’s words, “outstanding teamwork”. But the groundbreaking event also marks a triumph for the future of women in motorsports. Despite attracting a number of well-known female rally racers, most of the entrants were newcomers to the rally experience. As Hassan Jameel explains, influencing real social change requires opening up all avenues of society to women. “We believe Rally Jameel will play a major role in driving women’s participation in global motorsports, and we are committed to building on this success.”
About Hassan Jameel
Hassan Jameel is Deputy President and Vice Chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel, a globally diversified family-owned business, founded in 1945 by the late Abdul Latif Jameel. A member of the board of ALJ, he heads the company’s domestic operations in Saudi Arabia, including its automotive, real estate, land, machinery, and mobility divisions.
Hassan Jameel is also Vice Chairman of Community Jameel, an independent, global organization advancing science to help communities thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Prior to his current role, Hassan Jameel worked at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and was a Rivian board member. Alongside his work with ALJ and Community Jameel, he currently sits on the UTokyo Global Advisory Board for the University of Tokyo and the MIT School of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council.