Jeddah: In the recent years, Saudi Arabia has been tremendously witnessing its women breaking the proverbial glass ceiling across various sectors — the kingdom has its first female professional racing driver, award-winning women film producers, women judges etc.
To add to the list of achievements, the Kingdom now has world's first female crane driver in race competitions.
Ever since the age of 13, Merryhan Al-Baz has been curious about the world of vehicles, a passion for motors and engines which she has inherited from her father.
Now the 30-year-old had become the first female in the world to be a female crane driver in race competitions after participating in the Diriyah E-Prix 2022 ( a one hour race equivalent to a Grand Prix in Formula One) as a recovery marshal last month.
For the unversed, recovery marshals must clean up the circuit immediately after an accident happens in order for a race to continue its course.
According to Al-Baz, it was her parents who supported her talents considering how no one ever thought a woman could enter this field as the world of mechanics is a male dominated career.
"My father loves mechanics; he has old cars that he tries to repair and put back into operation, and I was the only person that sat next to him to watch how he does it," she was quoted as saying by Arab News.
"I've loved cars all my life, I have experience in racing and drifting as well," she said.
Although Al-Baz studied psychology and media in Lebanon, she said she always saw herself in the world of cars.
According to Al-Baz, Saudi Arabia's decision in 2018 to lift the ban on women driving has unvieled many opportunities for women in the Kingdom, from becoming driving instructors to racing drivers and mechanics.
"This helped me achieve my dream of becoming a mechanic," she said. "It's such an amazing feeling to walk down the street and have people know who I am and greet me, encourage me and even learn from me."
She also explained how being a recovery marshal is a difficult and a time-sensitive job as it directly affects the flow of the race.
"Whenever there is an accident, recovery marshals need to be at the scene as soon as possible because accidents delay the race and we must act quickly. The time the car is causing a road block is taking up time from the other racers," she explained.
In order to receive a certificate to pursue her career in a more official manner, Al-Baz has now registered at an institute in Jeddah.
Al-Baz now hopes to be able to open her own automobile repair shop in the near future.