Saudi women’s cycling team take over the Red Sea corniche

:: A group girls and women in Jeddah set up a women’s cycling team on the city’s corniche.

The group’s founder, Nadima Abu El-Einein, said that her passion for cycling since childhood prompted her to think about the creating the team, which she called “Bisklita” — the Arabic word for bicycle. The team started one-and-a-half years ago.

She said that her sisters and mother loved the idea and so did several women who later joined the team after learning about its activities through social media.

Team members hope that the community will understand the importance of women’s sports, and that they do not encounter any harassment while practicing, asserting that women can keep their headscarves and dress modestly while exercising in public places.

In a step to break the male monopoly of some sports, the team decided to spread awareness of the culture of sport and its psychological and physical benefits on the human body, declaring that wearing a hijab is not an obstacle for women to perform their hobbies.

Sawsan Abdullah, with special needs, did not give in to the poor health conditions from which she suffers, and insisted on pursuing her favorite sport. She designed a bike that compensates for her situation and, at the same time, normally participates with her friends. “After my brain operation, my right side was very weak. I could not ride my bicycle or even leave the bed,” Sawsan said. “After joining the team, these wheels were designed to support me and riding became very easy.”

Dina Al-Quthmi, a member of the team, said: ”I hope the community will accept us coming out and freely practicing our hobby without harassment.”

Despite the lack of support in their surroundings, people have witnessed shy attempts by Saudi women whose names have recently shined inside and outside the Kingdom through their participation in some sports.

After 12 months of individual training, the ladies aspire to an environment that is conducive to their hobby and someday reach global arenas.

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