Amna Al Qubaisi
SOURCE: ABOUT HER
BY: AMRITA SINGH
Saudi Arabia lifting it’s driving ban on women gives the women of the region more than just a sense of independence, but also offers up opportunities within the motorsports and driving industry.
From becoming driving instructors, and cab drivers to participating in racing championships, the driving world will now be their oyster.
Celebrating Saudi women now being able to get into the driver’s seat this June, we are highlighting the groundbreaking Arab women who put the pedal to metal and have become recognized race car drivers in the Arab region.
Amna Al Qubaisi
The daughter of Emirati race car driver, Khaled Al Qubaisi who made history for the UAE when he became the first Emirati to compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France claiming 2 podiums. Amna has since made her own mark within the motor sports world by being the first Emirati Female to participate in motorsports with Daman Speed Academy. She began karting at the age of 14 and was also the first female Arab to participate at the RMC World Finals. Two years later she began competing internationally claiming top 10.
Noor Daoud is a Palestinian street racer, and the Middle East’s one and only female drifter. Part of the notorious Speed Sisters’ all female Arab racing team, Noor’s passion for motor sports started at a young age where she collected toy cars. She always loved sports but no physical sport ever felt right – until she found racing. In 2009 she took part in a speed test and in 2011 moved to a different motor sport, drifting, and felt like that is where she belonged and hasn’t slowed down since.
For Betty Saadeh, the thrill of racing is in her blood. Her father and brother are renowned racers in Mexico and are originally from Bethlehem. Also part of the Palestinian Speed Sisters racing team, Betty is a glamorous blonde who once had a sponsorship deal with a local branch of the French carmaker, Puegot. Born in Mexico, she now lives in Ramallah with big dreams to race in the Formula 1.
Shalaby fell in love with rally driving during camping and safari trips with her brothers when she was a child. The 30-something-year-old, lives a double life as a mother who also works as an IT specialist at a bank and as a rally driver who has won a host of prizes in racing, where she has been one of the few women going head to head with men. In 2014, she won first place in the national category in Egypt’s Pharaons International Cross Country Rally and has won top prizes at the El Gouna Rally Cup, Al Remal Desert Challenge Rally and Al Farouky Desert Challenge. Not only has Shalaby achieved success in a male dominated industry, she has done so without the training structure and funding that allow male drivers to train and improve and now has her sights set on creating a female-only racing school.
Marah Zahalka is another Speed Sister from Jenin, a city in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. She found her passion for racing at 17-years-old, when a family friend took her to an autocross race and let her take his car for a spin around the track and was hooked from that moment She went on to become the youngest member of the Speed Sisters, the Middle East’s first all-women racecar driving team. Marah was also proclaimed the “Fastest Woman in Palestine.” Spending her youth under curfew and tight military control during the second Palestinian uprising, and knowing it would take incredible determination to achieve her dreams – she did just that.