Abbi Pulling and Aseel Al Hamad Photo: Courtesy of Alpine
Going through the very first Saudi State and home to the Al Saud Dynasty, state of Diriyah, all the way to the vibrant King Abdallah Financial District, the engines of the BWT Alpine F1 cars blasted through streets of the Kingdom. Behind the wheels were Aseel Al Hamad, Saudi Automobile & Motorcycle Federation Board Member, and Abbi pulling, Alpine Academy Affiliate Driver, who marked themselves in history as the first-ever women to drive F1 cars in Saudi Arabia.
The two motorsport record-breakers not only take the lead for the first women to drive the Alpine V8-powered E20 cars, but with the support of Saudi Tourism Authority, have also made waves with the first time an F1 has ever been driven through the streets of the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh. As a female leader and member of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and a board member of the Saudi Automobile & Motorcycle Federation, Al Hamad has also consistently worked to advance strategies and policies to promote women in motorsport, specifically in Saudi Arabia. The F1 driver has previously made history with Alpine in 2018 when she took the same E20 on track at Paul Ricard Circuit, France.
Aseel Al Hamad. Photo: Courtesy of Alpine
“It was beautiful to drive with BWT Alpine F1 Team once again, and even more special to do this in my country of Saudi Arabia and my home city of Riyadh,” says Al Hamad. “I hope this inspires more generations to fall in love with Formula 1 and for more women to consider motorsport as a future career.” Of taking the journey with 19-year-old Pulling she said, “I was super happy to meet Abbi, a lovely girl with lots of ambition, and an amazing passion for racing. She shows that with enough drive, girls can become professional racing drivers. It is important that we showcase examples to demonstrate to the younger generation that it can be them in the future; it doesn’t matter your gender; you need to show your talent. I will be cheering for them and opening the doors and hopefully we will see them on podiums in the near future.”
Abbi Pulling. Photo: Courtesy of Alpine
Having joined Al Hamad in the drive through the Kingdom, Pulling will soon compete in the W Series this year. Part of the Alpine Affiliate Programme, Pulling promotes young racers and provides them the training and guidance needed to make it all the way through to F1. “I got my first experience of an F1 car last weekend and it was everything I was expecting, and more,” said Pulling. “I started racing when I was just eight years old, always with the goal of reaching Formula 1, and I am so pleased to have got that little bit closer. It is very important for the industry to encourage and support young, female talents to achieve their ambitions. It was a pleasure to meet Aseel and to hear about all her initiatives to support young racers. It’s super encouraging for myself and the next generation.”
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Abbi Pulling and Aseel Al Hamad Photo: Courtesy of Alpine
Noura wears Sunlight Earrings, Sunlight Pendant, Piaget; Aseel wears Sunlight Earrings, Limelight Gala Watch, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
Piaget opens a new chapter by introducing automatic movement for the first time in its history in the Limelight Gala collection. It is made for all women all over the world, including courageous, powerful, successful, independent creatives and inspirators. Here, two sisters, Aseel Al Hamad and Noura Sulaiman, dazzle in the latest creations of Piaget’s Limelight Gala and Sunlight collections.
Aseel Al Hamad
Possession Earrings, Possession Pendant, Possession Ring, Possession Open Bangle Bracelet, Sunlight Ring, Winter Sun Watch, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
Intelligent, passionate, and graceful is how one would describe Aseel Al Hamad. An inspiration in her own right, there’s nothing she cannot do. Since graduating from Prince Sultan University in 2009 with a degree in interior design engineering, Al Hamad embarked on her career as an interior designer and established her firm IDegree Design. Over the years, her firm has worked on major residential and commercial projects all over Saudi Arabia.
Art and science are where Al Hamad’s initial interest in interior design stemmed from. It’s also where her passion for cars came from. “The combination of design and technology” is what she calls it. When asked what inspired her to set up her own company, the designer says, “Entrepreneurship connects a lot with me because it’s all about creativity, and being open to opportunities. I was always driven by the idea of being independent and creating my own future.” Although Al Hamad makes being a business owner look easy, it is no unchallenging task. “The biggest challenge can be to be flexible to fail at any time because being a business owner is risky,” she says. “It needs constant motivation and courage to keep moving forward. People who do not have courage might easily quit, so you must have confidence in your knowledge.”
Sunlight Earrings, Sunlight Pendants, Limelight Gala Watch, Possession Open Bangle Bracelets, Sunlight Ring, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
Like Piaget, Al Hamad references natural elements like sunlight in her designs. “The more we take advantage of daylight, the brighter a space is with natural light sources and less of artificial ones.” The designer also recalls one of her designs where she created a sunroom in the middle of a villa that complemented the daytime and the beautiful night sky. She says, “This sunroom made a big difference, by relying less on artificial lights during the day, and reducing energy consumption. At night, the space looked totally different.”
Besides elemental influences, Al Hamad cites the iconic architect Zaha Hadid as an inspiration. The Saudi interior designer learns from the challenges that Hadid faced in the industry. “Zaha not only designed remarkably beautiful buildings around the world, but, because of her artistic background, she also created a new architectural design school by thinking out of the box,” says Al Hamad.
When asked about the next steps in her design career, Al Hamad revealed that she is gradually moving towards hospitality design. “I am looking forward to specializing more and more into hospitality design and looking forward to designing iconic projects in Saudi Arabia and hopefully win international design awards,” she says.
The designer also feels a sense of joy in seeing her projects come to life. Further down the line, Al Hamad says that she hopes to accomplish many projects internationally and hopes to leave an artistic mark in this world.
Sunlight Earrings, Sunlight Pendant, Limelight Gala Watch, Possession Open Bangle Bracelets, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
Noura Sulaiman is on a mission to bring Saudi style to the forefront of international fashion. The designer launched her eponymous label to represent her dedication to fashion design as it reflects on her reverence towards her rich culture. The Riyadh-based designer’s tryst with fashion design began at the age of 12 when she designed her first dress for a cousin’s wedding. Ever since then, it was no turning back for the trailblazing designer. In 2011, Sulaiman graduated from the Riyadh Art and Skills Institute’s fashion design program and embarked on her career, creating abayas and dresses for friends and family.
She saw the need to incorporate sustainability and practicality in her designs to meet the demands of modern life. When asked how her approach to design has shifted over the years, she says, “My approach to design used to be driven by the alluring messiness of creativity, but with experience, I have found a balance by adding organizational and productive skills to my creativity.” The next step for her label is to launch internationally. “I hope to take the Saudi fashion, such as farwas and sudairyas, to other countries and cultures,” she says. In addition to launching internationally, Sulaiman also hopes to create timeless pieces that appeal to the modern Saudi man.
Possession Pendant, Possession Open Bangle Bracelets, Possession Watch, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
Sulaiman’s source of inspiration is a rather sentimental one, as she cites her daughter. She says, “I am inspired by my daughter in wanting to show her that she can follow whichever path that brings her joy, as fashion design does for me.” Confident, elegant, and unbothered by trends is how the designer views the Noura Sulaiman woman. An equally important inspiration for Sulaiman is the strong fashion sense and powerful sense of self Saudi men and women exude. She actively listens to feedback from clients on designs to inspire her future collections.
She also describes the international buzz around Saudi’s burgeoning design community as “exciting and humbling,” and commends the Saudi design community for their immense talent and creativity.
Noura wears Sunlight Earrings, Sunlight Pendant, Limelight Gala Watch, Possession Open Bangle Bracelets, Sunlight Rings, Piaget; Aseel wears Sunlight Earrings, Sunlight Pendant, Possession Ring, Limelight Gala Watch, Piaget; all clothing, Noura Sulaiman. Photographed by Taha Bagel
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Photography: Taha Baageel Hair: Tarek Akel Makeup: Tilda Production: Specter Productions Creative direction: Camilla Fitz-Patrick