ﻣﻮﻗﻊ ﺻﺪﻱ اﻟﺒﻠﺪ

Supervisor
Elham AbolFateh

Middle East

Saudi women rev up motorbikes as end to driving ban nears

Tuesday 12/June/2018 - 03:15 PM
File photo
File photo
Edited by: Yara Sameh

Even a year ago، it would have been hard to imagine -- Saudi women clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts، revving motorbikes at a Riyadh sports circuit، AFP reported.

But ahead of the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on female drivers on June 24، women gather weekly at the privately owned Bikers Skills Institute، to learn how to ride bikes.

"Biking has been a passion ever since I was a kid،" said 31-year-old Noura، who declined to give her real name as she weighs public reactions in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

Overturning the world's only ban on female drivers، long a symbol of repression against women، is the most striking reform yet launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I grew up watching my family riding bikes،" Noura told AFP as she mounted a Yamaha Virago.

"Now I hope... to have enough skills to ride on the street."

Next to her، revving a Suzuki، sat Leen Tinawi، a 19-year-old Saudi-born Jordanian.

For both women، biking is not just an adrenalin-fuelled passion، but also a form of empowerment.

"I can summarise the whole experience of riding a bike in one word -- freedom،" Tinawi said.

Both bikers follow their Ukrainian instructor، 39-year-old Elena Bukaryeva، who rides a Harley-Davidson.

Most days the circuit is the domain of drag racers and bike enthusiasts -- all men.

But since offering courses to women in February on the basics of bike riding، four female enthusiasts have enrolled، most of them Saudis، Bukaryeva said.

"They always wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. And now they are saying 'it's my time'،" Bukaryeva told AFP.

She echoed a catchphrase printed on the institute's promotional material: "It's your turn to ride."

The government has preemptively addressed concerns of abuse by outlawing sexual harassment with a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300،000 riyals.

Comments

ads

Poll

What do you think about our new design?

What do you think about our new design?
ads