UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

In Dubai, women prefer fast cars to knitting

Seeing a veiled woman at the wheel of a racing car might seem unlikely in a Muslim country. But just next door to Saudi Arabia - where women are banned from driving - a group of women has set up a club devoted to all things auto. Read more...

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Seeing a veiled woman at the wheel of a racing car might seem unlikely in a Muslim country. But just next door to Saudi Arabia - where women are banned from driving - a group of women has set up a club devoted to all things auto.

The Dubai Women Auto Racing Club is one of a kind in the United Arab Emirates. When it launched in 2006, it wasn't welcomed by everybody, and remains relatively unknown. In order to attract members, it has to be innovative.

Each year on National Day (Dec. 2), the club organises a "unity drive" to bring awareness to a certain issue. The 4x4s travel across the Emirates, escorted by guards assigned by the Interior Ministry. In 2007 the subject was Down's Syndrome, in 2008, skin cancer, and this year, diabetes.

“Women might feel uncomfortable in a mixed club”

Zoubaida Albloushi, 27, is a member of the Dubai Women Auto Race Club.

We decided to create a strictly female club because we're in an Arab country where women don't like the idea of mixing with men. Women might feel uncomfortable in a mixed club; they might not feel able to take advantage of all the activities on offer.

Club members are from all sorts of social backgrounds, most of them are working women. Go-carting, autocross, and 4x4ing have all proved very successful with our members, who can also take advantage of the mechanics workshops. Personally, I like 4x4s. They are nice to drive, and I love how powerful they are on sandy terrain."

Photos from the Women Auto Race Club website.