Friday, July 10, 2020

The Speed Race of Success: Exclusive Interview with Dania Akeel

Saudi Women are making news with great achievements on these days. Dania Akeel is the first Saudi woman to receive the Speed Bikes Competition license after applying through the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation (SAMF). In the first-ever interview given in Bahrain, Dania Akeel details her journey with speed bikes with Bahrain This Week.

When did your journey with Speed Bikes begin?

I loved being behind the driver’s seat since I can remember. My dreams were always centered around whichever vehicle I saw, and I drove them all – a plastic car when I was 4…a four-wheel buggy when I was 8…a dirt bike when I was a teenager…a street bike in my twenties, and finally a racing bike when I was 30. I always looked towards the next level of the machine which I could learn to handle, and with time progress lead me to the race track on an 899 Ducati. My dream and ambition were constant!

When and how you felt confident on Speed Bikes?

I first rode a speed bike when I was 27 years old. I used it to explore the beautiful countryside in the UK. This was when I felt that this type of bike molded perfectly to both my personality and my body. It was an instant natural connection. The confidence became stronger the more I rode; I have been riding regularly since March of this year where I have covered over 40,000km of road and track. With each visit to the track, I pray that I have gained knowledge and confidence.

You are the first Saudi female to receive her Speed Bikes Competition license. How the Kingdom supported you to achieve this?

When I registered to race in the UAE National Sports bike Super Series, I contacted SAMF (Saudi Arabian Motor Federation) for a non-objection letter to apply for a racing license in UAE and compete. SAMF not only gave me the letter but also offered a KSA racing license. This was a hugely encouraging contribution and I am extremely glad to be racing with a KSA- issued license.


As the first Saudi woman ever to enter this field, have you faced any challenges?

I have received nothing but support from the racing network – from government authorities to automotive businesses, including garages and dealerships, to fellow racers and race event organizers. The entire ecosystem surrounding this sport has allowed me to enjoy and appreciate it in ways I didn’t previously imagine. The social aspect of it alone is a greatly enriching experience. It is a sport built on helping one another to develop as racers by constantly pushing the limit to reach a higher standard of speed, strength, and focus. It is a growth-oriented environment with a friendly atmosphere.

What are your preparations for UAE National Sports Bike Super Series?

I regularly attend practice sessions at both Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Autodrome to develop my skills as a racer.

I have been working to increase my cardiovascular stamina by running multiple times per week. I also work to improve core strength through regular Pilates sessions and enhance my body’s flexibility and agility through Yoga which makes movement around the bike easier and more stable.

It is equally important to maintain a healthy dietary lifestyle so I make sure to eat light and nourishing foods, while also keeping a regular sleeping schedule.

What is the happiest moment you ever had on speed bikes?

To choose one moment would be unfair to every other time I’ve gotten on a bike. Each time I feel such joy that is present on every trip, every ride, and every opportunity. It is a constant place of play and gratitude for life’s gifts. I look forward to every moment where life offers such joy.

Who were your greatest supporters for this?

I have received support from many avenues…my family, my country, my friends, and most of all from those affiliated with the motorcycle industry. The racing world has welcomed me with open arms, and I am grateful for such a warm embrace.

What’s your advice to Saudi women who dream to get on speed bikes?

My advice to those looking to speed bikes are to have your goals set in place, and consistently work towards them. Allow each step you take to be in the direction of your dreams. The size of those steps depends on each person; it is an individual process and the path is different for each rider. Listen to your heart and you will know how far you are willing to go each time you move forward. Have confidence in each action, and allow yourself to take the time that you need to reach your goals. Timing is personal, but consistency applies to all.

What’s your vision to support the racers of the region?

I see a huge opportunity for the development of motorsports in the region. Both the talent of the racers as well as the interest of the spectators exist in vast amounts across the region. The possibilities are limitless; sponsorships from the automotive industry and other interested parties can enable various racers to excel in their craft – whether it be on two wheels or four, on dirt or on asphalt. The drive is here, all one needs to do is get behind the wheel.


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