With Mother’s Day scheduled to be celebrated across the Middle East on Monday, Saudi runner Reema Juffali has called her mother her biggest fan and said her successes on the track would not have been possible without her support.
Since following her passion in 2018 and becoming Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver, Reema has recorded some impressive results. This included a fourth place finish in last year’s British F3 Championship and a second place finish in this year’s Dubai 24 Hours race.
Off the track, Reema was also the official ambassador for the inaugural F1 Saudi Arabia race last December in her hometown of Jeddah.
While Reema credits her former teams and coaches, she highlighted praise for her mother, Sana, for her commitment, encouragement, and the confidence she has shown in her career from day one.
She said: “My mother has been my absolute rock. Who I am today is thanks to her, thanks to the support that she has given me and what she has taught me. She is someone I look up to and someone I aspire to be.
“Before even deciding to take that step [into racing], she said ‘When are you going to get your racing license?’ She knew how much it meant to me. She probably saw later than me. Now we’re here and I’m running. We’re talking about my success, and it’s still hard for me to talk about because it’s something that’s still pretty new.
“Whenever I felt overwhelmed or overexerted myself, she was always the voice of reason asking me, ‘What’s going on? What is happening?’ She has a unique ability to understand the situation I’m in and make sure I enjoy it and don’t feel overwhelmed.
“Having someone you can lean on and ask for advice is very important. I was 26 years old and decided to leave my career to do what I love. To have someone who means a lot to you back you up and tell you to do it is amazing. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without a woman like her.”
Having seen Reema’s role develop outside of sport, her mother Sana is pleased to see her daughter fulfill her ambitions and hopes more women can follow in her footsteps.
Sana said: “As a mother, I’m always asked, ‘aren’t you worried? You are not afraid? They [other mothers] they are all worried. They want to protect their children and they want to shelter them.
“I say it’s just driving a car. It’s like being a doctor. You train to do that. And if you train well, why should you worry? Since she was young, she has been responsible and focused, before she started training to be an athlete. Now as an athlete, I see physical preparation, mental preparation and even emotional preparation. The more I see her in this sport, the more confident I feel that she is taking care of herself.”
“I am happy enough with Reema reaching her goal. That is enough for me. In the big picture, there is hope for all women, hope for all women in the world.”
She also recalled the moment Reema entered her first race in 2018 and her pride after seeing incredible media coverage.
“We had no idea how much attention Reema would attract globally, and that was not our incentive. Our goal was just for Reema to pursue her dream, we were all there to see it,” she said. “He got a good result which was a great achievement and the response on social media afterwards was 99% positive. It was phenomenal: the sheer number of interested people was huge. We didn’t expect that.”
As for the advice she would give to other mothers, Sana said, “Trust that your child will adequately prepare for the challenges ahead. I think it’s time for women to show their abilities at all levels and not worry about the prejudices and stereotypes that exist.”