Current Extreme E points leader Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinksy will contest the inaugural all-female off-road Rally Jameel in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky will act as co-driver to experienced off-road navigator Annie Seel in a Toyota Fortuner for the event which covers almost 600 competitive miles over three days.
The rally, which has royal backing from the country’s ambassador to the United States HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, will run from Ha’il to Riyadh and has attracted a 33-strong entry.
In addition to her Extreme E exploits, Åhlin-Kottulinsky has taken part in occasional rallycross events as well as a one-off outing in the SSV support category to Nitro Rallycross last season.
Her driver, Seel, is a former bike competitor on the Dakar Rally but who now plies her trade as co-driver to Anett Fischer in the T3 Lightweight Prototype class of rally raid.
Speaking about her first off-road rally, Åhlin-Kottulinsky said: “[I’m] very excited to team up and share a car with [the] legend Annie Seel for the Rally Jameel, the first ever all female off-road Rally in Saudi Arabia.”
The first all-female rally marks a significant milestone for Saudi Arabia, which only recognized women’s rights to drive a car in the country as recently as 2017.
Rally Jameel also falls under the KSA Vision 2030 movement which aims to ‘encourage and empower all members of society, especially women’, with a particular emphasis on women in motorsports.
Of the 33 teams, 13 nationalities will be represented in the event, which is reserved for unmodified all-wheel-drive or 4×4 cars.
Defending T3 FIA World Cup Bajas champion Dania Akeel is also on the entry list in a privately-entered team, driving a Toyota Land Cruiser GR alongside Spanish co-driver Rosa Romero.
Former under-secretary to the United Nations and key figurehead for female empowerment in Saudi Arabia, Dr Thuraya Obaid, said that Rally Jameel will give women all over the world the ideal platform to showcase their talent.
“Empowerment is basically the ability of a person to make life decisions without negative pressures that prevent them from exercising this right, and thus the person is responsible for their decisions and results, both negatively and positively,” said Dr Obaid.
“With this in mind, Rally Jameel contributes to giving women an equal opportunity to participate in an activity that they themselves chose, trained themselves to excel in, and entered the world of national and international competition.
“This participation is one of the types of expression of the woman’s ability to choose her own path and activities.”