Countdown: Women in Jeddah are gearing up to drive their cars. However, in the meantime it seems that they’ve been practicing by cycling. This is Bisklita (bicycle): a group founded by Nadima Abu El-Einein, a cycling enthusiast since childhood.
Bisklita allows all women to practise their passion, or simply discover the sport, while providing valuable safety tips. It’s also a way of breaking the male monopoly on sport and attacking the stigma around female practice, asserting their right to train in public spaces.
Helping each other out is quite fundamental for these women to set up and keep the project afloat. This while remaining in compliance with the cultural norms “Nothing about Islam prohibits playing sports,” says Nadima Abu El-Einein.
The ideas of solidarity and openness are at the heart of the project. However, the sporting issue itself is not to be neglected: the goal of Bisklita is also to encourage Saudi women, and provide them with the means to practice a regular sporting activity, which is still far from the case for the majority.
As underlined by a study led by the National Health Information Center (of the Saudi Ministry of Health) only 29% of Saudi females performed daily physical activity in 2014. This is all set to improve, especially with public schools recently introducing physical education classes for girls..
Social networks increased the project’s impact
The fact that the cycling group boasts about thirty regular members is partly thanks to social networks, a catalyst for the project. WhatsApp messaging made setting up weekly appointments between group members a breeze. A Twitter account allows fans to keep updated with the Bisklita evolutions. The account’s Bio description is a clear one: “Do what you love, stay strong, be positive, and never give upe.