JEDDAH: After a number of years of competing in various local autocross competitions, Afnan Almarglani recently became the first Saudi woman to hold an autocross and safe driving skills trainer license.
Her journey in the sport began when her motor sports-mad brother brought home a brand new PlayStation when they were growing up. The two competed in video games such as Gran Turismo 3, a racing title.
“From when I was young, I used to see my older brother Fahd interested in sports cars, modifying them and buying car parts from abroad. We used to race with each other in video games. I was so fascinated by cars, by the shape of the cars, the sound of engines and how they were driven incredibly fast. I played the game every day until it got to the point that I couldn’t beat my own fastest lap times,” she said.
Almarglani works in biomedical engineering. She previously took part in the first women’s race in Saudi Arabia during time off from her work at a project management office at the Ministry of Health.
One of the difficulties which I faced was the criticism of our society, the fact that a girl enters the field of cars which is dominated by men. But now the situation is developing and changing.
Her blending of roles as a biomedical engineer and racer makes her unique, and her talent in both careers has allowed her to take opportunities that most women do not have.
Almarglani, who holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from a US university, told Arab News that her love and passion led her to work with sports cars, and that she chose to enter the field to gain experience.
She said: “Medical engineering is one of the most beautiful and rare disciplines in the world, because it combines engineering and medicine, which results in solutions to healthcare problems. Because of the amount of pressure and stress that I face in my work, I need to unload my energy, and enjoy and practice my hobby in motorsports.
“Alhamdulillah, we live in a great country with the decision to allow women to drive. So, I participated in the first women’s autocross championship and won second place in the qualifying round,” she added.
After her first foray into the sport, Almarglani took part in various local autocross championships held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar. “After gaining experience and skills, I moved to a higher level in the autocross racing, which enabled me to take part in the Toyota Autocross Championship in Alkhobar, and I was able to win the best time in the women’s category.”
She also competed in the Speed Madness (Autocross) Championship in Riyadh’s Dirab Park, placing first.
When asked about the challenges she faces as a woman in motorsports, Almarglani said: “Like any hobby you practice, you need training and knowledge of the basics. In the beginning, it was somehow difficult for me, especially since there were no academies for women, but without the efforts and support of my colleagues in the circuit, I would not have reached this level I am at right now.”
She added: “One of the difficulties which I faced also was the criticism of our society, the fact that a girl enters the field of cars which is dominated by men. But now the situation is developing and changing, especially when women are becoming more involved in the sport of auto racing starting at a young age and training determinedly to become professional drivers.”
The other biggest challenge for Almarglani is finding sponsorship opportunities. “Motor sports is an expensive sport and finding a sponsor is very difficult, so to maintain that training and to have a good team, and a good car, requires a lot of investment and you need both if you want to do well. The way to find sponsorship is through exposure and by winning races,” she said.
Almarglani is often asked how her parents feel about the dangers of her sport. She said: “Of course, at first, they were concerned about me, especially that motor sports has risks, so the level of safety in it is high, and it is expensive in terms of preparing the driver and the car. After I explained to my family all the means of protection and safety, and after they observed my passion and happiness after each race, they supported me and told me to continue, and they were always in the first ranks to encourage me.”
Recently, the official account of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, via Twitter, congratulated Almarglani for obtaining a training license.
She said: “I feel indescribably proud that I was able to achieve one of my biggest ambitions, thanks to God, and then thanks to Vision 2030, which empowered Saudi women and made them able to move forward in writing their achievements.”
Almarglani’s goal is to support every woman who wants to enter motor sports and to build a professional women’s motor sports team to represent Saudi Arabia in the world championships. “To achieve this goal, I hope there will be sponsorships offered to me as well as other Saudi female drivers in order to participate locally and regionally, to represent our beloved country.”
Saudi Arabia offered a $10 million contribution to confront the threat posed on the Safer oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, the government’s aid body, KSRelief, announced on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia has always supported the efforts of the United Nations to confront and avoid the potential economic, humanitarian and environmental threats that the oil tanker could cause, KSRelief said.
An oil spill could cause a major environmental and navigational disaster that threatens the Red Sea coast, fishing communities, international navigation and the entry of food and fuel, and life-saving supplies to Yemen, KSRelief warned.
This would exacerbate the humanitarian situation and threaten the countries bordering the Red Sea, the aid body said.
Saudi Arabia has warned that if oil leaks from the Safer tanker, which contains more than one million barrels and has not been maintained since 2015, the world will witness the largest environmental disaster that threatens underwater life, fisheries and biodiversity as a result of the oil spill.
The decaying ship is thought to have around 1.14 million barrels stored aboard in total, and has been left to rust for six years amid the Yemeni civil war, after it was converted into a floating storage facility.
The necessity of activating collective action to protect the oceans was highlighted during the commemoration of the United Nations World Oceans Day, on June 8, the KSRelief statement said.
“The oceans are one of the main sources of food and the biggest ally in the face of climate change, and the Kingdom is following international developments in this regard within the framework of conserving the most important marine resources and ecosystems,” the statement said.
According to KSRelief, several meetings and discussions were held with the international community to support the rescue plan of the Safer tanker, and support the efforts of the UN to find the appropriate plan to neutralize the potential danger.
Saudi Arabia also called on the UN to take the necessary measures to ensure the prevention of oil leakage and transfer it to a safe place.
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported 753 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 776,890.
The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,170.
Of the new infections, 295 were recorded in Riyadh, 121 in Jeddah, 98 in Dammam, 32 in Makkah, 30 in Hofuf and 25 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 20 new cases each.
The ministry said that of the current cases, 98 were in critical condition.
The ministry also announced that 633 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 758,821.
It said that 8,899 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 25,999 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to nearly 43 million.
More than 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with over 25 million people fully vaccinated.
MADINAH: Saudi Minister of Commerce and Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi visited the International Exhibition and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization in Madinah.
He was briefed on the contents of the museum, including technical models, atlases and encyclopedias.
Al-Qasabi expressed his admiration for the museum’s role in preserving Islamic heritage, praising its presentation in a modern documentary format.
He said that it confirms the Kingdom’s keenness to serve the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah, especially the biography of the Prophet. He added that it meets the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 in enriching the faith motive for visitors of the Two Holy Mosques.
The museum was launched last year under the supervision of the Muslim World League and is the first in a series of Islamic museums to travel around the world under the organization’s umbrella.
The museum was launched last year under the supervision of the Muslim World League and is the first in a series of Islamic museums to travel around the world under the organization’s umbrella. Located next to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, the museum is open 24 hours a day, and is dedicated to the history of the Islamic world as well as the life of the Prophet.
Located next to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, the museum is open 24 hours a day, and is dedicated to the history of the Islamic world as well as the life of the Prophet.
Earlier, Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman said that the contents of the exhibition and museum represent “a historical legacy from which to spread the correct Prophetic approach … to all parts of the world so as to demonstrate the tolerance and moderation of Islam.”
MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said that the museum introduces the world to the Prophet’s life and Islamic civilization, in addition to highlighting the civilizational values in the Constitution of Madinah and the Makkah Document, both of which established the foundations for human fraternity and coexistence.
Recently, Al-Issa launched a traveling exhibition in Morocco showcasing the life of the Prophet and the history of Islam.
He revealed that the first edition of the exhibition would open to guests on July 25 at the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s headquarters in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, with the full support of the north African country’s King Mohammed VI.
The touring exhibition will employ the latest technology and display techniques to document the Prophet’s biography and Islamic civilization to Muslim as well as non-Muslim visitors.
The exhibition in Rabat will be presented in Arabic, English and French, and will have 10 sections employing technologies such as holographic imaging, virtual and augmented reality, interactive 3D displays, stereoscopics and educational panoramas.
JEDDAH: A six-month-old art space in Jeddah sees 2022 as the year when every element of the building gradually unfolds and launches.
Art Jameel is already on its second exhibition in its museum block Hayy Arts.
Toward the end of the year, it will open Saudi Arabia’s first arthouse cinema Hayy Cinema and show films from the Kingdom, the Arab world and further afield that would not necessarily get screened in multiplexes to offer audiences in the Kingdom something new.
Toward the end of the year, Art Jameel will open Saudi Arabia’s first arthouse cinema Hayy Cinema and show films from the Kingdom, the Arab world and further afield that would not necessarily get screened in multiplexes to offer audiences in the Kingdom something new.
Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said the people of Jeddah had a “hunger” for art events and that every event hosted by Hayy Jameel had been full.
“Usually when you launch new museums or art initiatives anywhere in the world it tends to be the usual suspects who visit, people who are already into art tend to come,” she told Arab News.
“I think what’s really interesting about the Jeddah public, we can contrast it with other places around the world, is that the audiences we’re getting here are exceptionally broad. All ages, backgrounds, and areas of Jeddah are coming to Hayy Jameel with a great intellectual curiosity looking for a cultural experience.”
She said the launch of these initiatives would impact the future of the Saudi art scene.
“We’re in an unprecedented moment in the Saudi art scene right now. We have the greatest level of government support for the scene and we can see that through the Diriyah Biennale and the Islamic Biennale. At the same time, you have this groundswell of activity from the independent initiatives.”
Art Jameel is launching an initiative called Little Hayy, a specialist children’s learning zone for the arts.
“It’s lots of fun educational learning and edutainment. It’s a way of learning for kids through the arts, which is fun and interactive. That’s something that we were asked by the community to provide, and we always want to be as responsive as possible to build here at Hayy Jameel something for everyone.”
Carver said music was important for people in Jeddah and that the venue would provide more music events. Next week, there is a collaboration with MDL Beast.
“We’re debuting new initiatives in music, again being responsive to the community. We’ve realized that music is very central to Jeddah and there aren’t many opportunities for young musicians to hone their talent.”
Art Jameel and MDL Beast are holding a forum for young musicians in Saudi Arabia so they can learn about the industry. In the evening, there is a public event with DJs and performances in the main courtyard.
Other spaces opening during the year are Athr Gallery, concept store Homegrown, publishing house and cultural consultancy Al-Mohtaraf, AlComedy Club, culinary atelier Sofia’s Bistro, and design studio Riwaq Dahr.
RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested more than 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, according to an official report.
From June 2 to 8, a total of 9,337 people were arrested for violations of residency rules, while 3,996 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,876 for labor-related issues.
The report showed that among the 186 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 40 percent were Yemeni, 49 percent Ethiopian, and 11 percent were of other nationalities.
A further 79 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 11 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be aiding illegal entry to the Kingdom, including transporting and providing shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.
Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.