Reema Juffali has been racing to the top — and into our hearts — since her debut in 2018. She is the first Saudi Arabian female racer and the founder of Theeba Motorsports, a racing team aimed at creating more opportunities for Saudi Arabians to dive into the exhilarating world of motorsports. Juffali has gone on to race in the 2019 F4 British Championship, 2019-20 Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, and the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Sprint. Most recently, she became F1 Academy’s first wild card entry in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, making it her first ever home race. As Juffali continues to break barriers, EnVi has rounded up the must-know facts about one of motorsports’ rising racers.

The Turning Point

Juffali grew up with a keen interest for sports. However, it wasn’t until she moved to the United States to attend Northeastern University when she discovered racing. She described this as an “aha! moment” in an interview with The Athletic, explaining how this made her realize she can “bring her […] passions together.” 

While F1 introduced her to the world of motorsports, it was the 24 Hours of Le Mans that convinced her to pursue racing. “Before then, motorsport and racing were just an impossible dream – they were so far away, and Le Mans caught my attention. There’s actually amateur drivers in it, and winning and on the podium!” Juffali told Females in Motorsports

She was 19 when she stepped into her sister’s Mini Cooper and drove it around a track. Then to celebrate her graduation, she bought herself a three-day racing school experience in Florida. But it wasn’t smooth sailing from there. The then 20-year-old driver experienced push-back and struggled to obtain a racing license. 

Just when Juffali felt as though she’d “exhausted” all her options, she met Susie Wolff in 2017 who urged her to continue pursuing her passion. Wolff is a former Scottish motorsports racer and current managing director of F1 Academy. She’d given Juffali advice about which racing schools to attend and which people to talk to. A month later, Reema Juffali obtained her racing license and became the first woman in Saudi Arabia to hold one, just months after the Women to Drive Movement

Photo courtesy of Theeba Motorsports and Reema Juffali

Making History

Reema Juffali is no stranger to making history. In October 2018, Juffali made her racing debut in both the MRF Challenge in India and the TRD 86 Cup in Abu Dhabi where she became the first female Saudi Arabian license holder to compete. She went on to represent her country in the 2019 F4 British Grand Prix and competed in the 2019-20 Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY where she then became the first Saudi Arabian woman to race in an international series in Saudi Arabia. 

Since 2019, Juffali continues to break barriers and has competed in Formula 4 UAE, GB3 championship, 24H Spa, and most recently, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. However, when she first started racing, she admitted that she “didn’t think there was a story” and she was more focused about excelling on track. 

This is something she’s expressed before when she started racing. In an interview with Sport Star prior to the MRF Challenge in 2018, Juffali “didn’t realize how my whole country was behind me,” she said. “I was so humbled and honored to be that person. Like everyone else, I have my own goals, my passion, I want to become the best racer that I can be. And the fact that I can inspire others, it’s unbelievable. That would push me to do even more.”

Photo courtesy of Reema Juffali

Theeba Motorsports

Juffali founded Theeba Motorsports in 2022 as a way to give back to her community. Since her racing debut in 2018, she’s received enormous support from the people of Saudi Arabia and in turn, questions on how to break into motorsports. The goal of the racing team is to open more doors for men and women in Saudi Arabia.  The team’s mission statement states that they aim to “improve the Kingdom’s access to motorsport by providing a space to learn and participate through a variety of educational opportunities and programmes.”

“It’s really about sharing this journey with them,” Juffali told Motor Sport in a 2022 interview. “It’s not just my story anymore.”

Currently, the team is made up of Juffali and former Italian F4 racers, Ralf Aron and Alain Valente. Theeba Motorsports competes in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, and just last year, they secured their first pole position in Hockenheim where Juffali became the first woman to do so.

Wild Card Entry in F1 Academy

F1 Academy is a women-only racing championship and one of the notable initiatives F1 has taken to increase diversity within the sport. The series completed their inaugural season last year, and introduced wild card entries into their 2024 season. This allows Prema Racing to choose a female racer from select countries to participate in races. F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff explained to FORMULA 1 that wild card entries will “promote regional talent, engage with local communities, and increase the talent pool in the regions in which we race which will be important for our long-term growth and ensure we are creating even more opportunities for women to get involved in our sport.”

Juffali was selected as F1 Academy’s first wild card entry for their race in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The 32-year-old racer expressed her palpable excitement in an interview with FORMULA 1. “As the saying goes: ‘if you can’t see it, you won’t believe it,’” she said. “So, hopefully Saudi fans can see that there is a Saudi racing driver out there and it will get them to thinking that ‘this is something I can do!’. It is for this reason I have decided to take this challenge on. This is just the beginning!”

The Race Ahead

While the world has their eyes on Reema Juffali, she is setting her sights on Le Mans. The 32-year-old racer intends to be the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the infamous 24-hour endurance race. She also aims to further expand Theeba Motorsports. As the team secures more financial backing, she seeks to create internships and opportunities for Saudi Arabian men and women in motorsports. With each overtake and pole position secured, there’s a person watching the television and experiencing their own “aha! moment” as well. 

“I think the title of being first, it might be momentarily nice,” Juffali began in Mercedes-Benz’s campaign video for International Women’s Day. “But the bigger picture, you want to be one amongst many.”

And that wraps up what we need to know about Reema Juffali and her race for change in the world of motorsports.

Interested in reading more about women in motorsports? Read our article on representation in racing here!