Female riders have taken part in Saudi Arabia’s first women’s cycling race, surprising many people in the conservative nation and across social media.
JEDDAH: Saudi women cyclists were able to compete in a race held in the city of Jeddah on Tuesday. Forty-seven women competed in the 10-kilometre race, which was organized by ‘Be Active’ a group bringing together women cyclists and local authorities.
In a statement to local media, race organiser Ms. Nadima Abu al-Enein said she was surprised by the number of cyclists in attendance.
“The large participant turnout prompted the organizing committee to increase the allowed number of participants from 30 to 47 girls,” she said. “However, the committee was still forced to exclude numerous others who hoped to participate.”
Although the event received positive reactions from some people, it proved to be controversial for others. The event surprised many people in the conservative nation and across social media.
Ms Abu al-Enein set up her bicycle club in 2017, using social media to recruit fellow Saudi female cycling enthusiasts and raise the awareness around cycling for both Saudi women and the wider population.
In an interview with Cycling Today, she described the difficulties she and her fellow riders faced when riding in the country, but said the number of women cyclists grow all the time.
In 2013 the authorities in Saudi Arabia decreed women are allowed to ride bicycles in recreational areas on condition they dress modestly and are accompanied by a male guardian at all times.
On Monday, Jeddah was also announced as the potential home for the first opera house in Saudi Arabia, as the nation prepares its Vision 2030 plan of social change.