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JEDDAH: After several years of competing in various local autocross competitions, Afnan Almarglani recently became the first Saudi woman to hold a trainer’s license in autocross and safe driving.

His journey into sports began when his motorsport-mad brother brought home a brand new PlayStation when they were growing up. Both have competed in video games such as Gran Turismo 3, a racing title.

“Ever since I was young, I saw my older brother Fahd getting into sports cars, modifying them and buying car parts overseas. We used to race with each other in video games .I was so fascinated with the cars, the shape of the cars, the sound of the engines and the way they drove incredibly fast.I played the game every day until I couldn’t beat my best ones anymore. lap time,” she said.

Almarglani works in biomedical engineering. She had previously participated in the first women’s race in Saudi Arabia during her spare time at a project management office in the Ministry of Health.

Her mix of roles as a biomedical engineer and a racer makes her unique, and her talent in both careers has allowed her to seize opportunities that most women don’t have.

Almarglani, who holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from an American university, told Arab News that her love and passion led her to work with sports cars and 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, resulting in solutions to health problems. Due to the pressure and stress I face in my job, I need to unload my energy, enjoy and practice my motorsport hobby.

“Alhamdulillah, we live in a big 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”, a- she added.

After his first foray into the sport, Almarglani competed in various local autocross championships held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar. “After gaining experience and skills, I advanced to a higher level in autocross racing, which allowed me to participate 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 at Dirab Park in Riyadh, placing first.

Asked about the challenges she faces as a woman in motorsport, Almarglani said: “Like any hobby you do, you need basic training and knowledge. At first it was a little difficult for me, especially since there were no academies for women, but without the efforts and support of my colleagues on the circuit, I would not have reached this level where I am at the moment.

She added: “One of the difficulties that I also faced was the criticism of our society, the fact that a girl enters the field of automobiles which is dominated by men. But now the situation is changing and is changing, especially as women become more involved in the sport of motor racing from an early age and train hard to become professional drivers.

The other biggest challenge for Almarglani is finding sponsorship opportunities. “Motorsport 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, takes a lot of investment and you need both if you want to do well. The way to find sponsors is to get known and win races,” she said.

Almarglani is often asked what his parents think of the dangers of his sport. She said: “Of course at first they were worried about me, especially that motorsport has risks, so the level of safety is high and it’s expensive in terms of driver and car preparation. After explaining to my family all the means of protection and safety, and after observing my passion and happiness after each race, they supported me and told me to continue, and they were always in the front row for me encourage.

Recently, the official account of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, via Twitter, congratulated Almarglani on obtaining a training license.

She said: “I am indescribably proud to have been able to achieve one of my greatest ambitions, thanks to God and then thanks to Vision 2030, which has empowered Saudi women and enabled them to move forward in the world. writing about their accomplishments.

Almarglani’s goal is to support all women who want to get into motorsport and to create a professional women’s motorsport team to represent Saudi Arabia at the world championships. “To achieve this goal, I hope that sponsorships will be offered to me and other female Saudi drivers to participate locally and regionally, to represent our beloved country.”

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