May. 24, 2018

Aseel Al Hamad

Saudi Arabia

Aseel Al Hamad

Board Member, Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF)

“The General Entertainment Authority and the General Sports Authority were established to drive entertainment and sports under Vision 2030.”


Aseel Al Hamad was appointed as the first female board member of SAMF in December 2017. In this capacity, she also serves as the Saudi Arabian representative of Women in Motorsport for Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Furthermore, she is an interior designer, specializing in turnkey solutions using bespoke high-end design from global brands. She founded IDEGREE DESIGN in 2009 to provide these services. She holds a degree in interior design engineering from Prince Sultan University and followed additional courses at the University of Arts London in the UK. She is the first female Saudi member of the Ferrari Owners Club.

How did you come to found IDEGREE DESIGN, and how has your style and vision on interior design developed?

My story in the interior design business was rather unintentional. After graduating in 2009, I was approached to design the office of a family member. That project led to more projects as I continued to receive positive references and new assignments. Based on my experience, I subsequently established a complete interior design team in 2012. We focus on customization and strive to create a custom-made environment that suits our clients' styles. Our goal is to be an integrated design services company, providing end-to-end solutions including design, material supplies, and execution. We source the materials for interior finishing from top European brands, mostly from France and Italy. Our team has the expertise to design spaces to fit the Saudi lifestyle. Our team of designers is young, and we represent the new generation of Saudis that is aware of trends around the world.

Where does your affinity with the automotive industry come from and what are your responsibilities within SAMF since you were appointed board member in December 2017?

I have always been captivated by cars and while growing up, I enthusiastically followed the latest car models. It was not only the designs that I was interested in, but also the mechanical engineering. My passion grew from cars to motor sports before I became an active follower of motorsports news and a regular at racing events. Later, I took courses to learn how to drive on racetracks. So far, the most exciting experience was the Corso Pilota at the Ferrari Factory, which is held at the Fiorano Circuit in Italy—my first true experience of racing on a circuit. I continued to participate in open track events across the GCC, often organized under the umbrella of car dealers. Ever since King Salman's decree in September allowed women to drive in the Kingdom, I have received many offers to participate in domestic circuits. As this is largely unchartered territory for Saudi women and given my unique experience, I was glad to accept the offer to become a SAMF board member. The board of SAMF is responsible for everything related to its mission and vision, along with preparing the future strategy to develop and further professionalize the federation in Saudi Arabia. As part of the Crown Prince's Vision 2030, there will be more room for motorsport— and entertainment in general—and we are tasked to develop this. One of my contributions to the board is to support Princess Nourah University with its safety campaigns for driving. SAMF is supported by FIA, the international automobile federation, and many SAMF members are also member of FIA committees. We collaborated on an Action for Road Safety campaign, working with a network of Saudi and global influencers to raise awareness of road safety. I represent Saudi Arabia at the FIA Committee for Women in Motorsports, under the presidency of French rally driver, Michele Mouton. This committee aims to facilitate and value the participation of women in all aspects of motorsports, in not only racing, but also mechanical engineering, directors, PRs, and many others.

What are your expectations for motorsports to flourish in Saudi Arabia?

The motorsports sector is growing rapidly here. Today, we are witnessing sport-related events on a weekly basis, ranging from drift races to all sorts of competitions. A new track will open in Jeddah soon, with global standards for both racetrack and facilities. Thus, we will be able to host international events here. The General Entertainment Authority and the General Sports Authority were established to drive both entertainment and sports, and under Vision 2030, our expectations for motorsports to develop are high. Vision 2030 not only strives to support professional athletes, but also to encourage mass participation in sports. There are numerous events happening across the country. The General Entertainment Authority recently sponsored the Race of the Champions at the King Fahd National Stadium in Riyadh. This race allows international champions in various sports disciplines to compete against each other on an equal scale, seeing the true capabilities and skills of the drivers rather than their vehicles. It was a great experience and I was extremely proud to watch Saudi professional racers competing against world champions. We look forward to similar activities in the future.

How will the recent decree on female drivers further empower them in the workplace and country?

Allowing women to drive is a much welcome and needed change in Saudi Arabia. It represents a significant milestone in our history. I see it as the start of emancipation of Saudi women. Also, I would like to highlight something important about women's empowerment. People who see us from the outside do not in fact live with us. Not everyone understands the inherit traditions of how women are treated here. Men show the women in their families great respect and appreciation. They also treat their wives with love and respect. Allowing women to drive is one step to show the world our true compassion, mercifulness, and respect present in our habits, customs, and traditions. The royal decree to allow women to drive falls under the plan for supporting Saudi women, empowering them to do more. It is possible for Saudi women to count more on themselves for their daily routines. This will lead to higher female participation in the labor market, which will further boost Saudi Arabia's economy.

As a young leader of the new generation, what are your ambitions for the coming years?

I have many ideas that I would love to convert into reality for the love of my country and the sake of the new, young generation who deserve to dream big and achieve their goals. The new generation deserves to dream and continue to develop their achievements. Today, we are in the middle of a transformation and we need to lead this change in the right direction. Our country needs us more than ever. It has invested so much in our education and everything that has made us the way we are today, and it is time for this generation to lift the country with us. The new generation is talented and full of new business ideas—it is their time to shine now.