In the fast lane
Women’s position in the motoring world is changing fast – like 100kph fast. As more well-heeled car enthusiasts get behind the wheel of some of the newest supercars and exclusive vintage motors, leading manufacturers are seeing the potential of female drivers beyond the ‘mummy-friendly’ vehicles. The same speedy change is occurring on the race tracks as female race drivers to continue to break through the male-dominated industry to compete on the highest level.
Someone who spotted the fact that women are just as passionate about supercars is Hanan Mazouzi Sobati. After attending numerous car events that clearly targeted men, she wanted to create a platform for women who are just as knowledgeable about cars, and are a far cry from the stereotypical Jumeirah Janes. These are smart, successful women who like to spend just as much time and money on a Ferrari, as they do on Amina Muaddi heels, and who, maybe without knowing it, are in pole position in the motoring world.
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What inspired you to launch Arabian Gazelles?
Well I wasn’t inspired I was frustrated. My husband wasn’t into supercars but he was receiving the invite for test drives and he used to say “this is your thing Hanan, you go.” So I used to go to these events as the only woman, after a while I thought do I have to justify myself to do such an activity? Well, somebody has to do something about it and I was sure that there are women out there who would love to live this passion.
Do you think that it’s a lot harder to banish this misconception in the region, or is this attitude global?
It is a global attitude. Honestly, I had more negative energy coming from European men than from local men which is crazy to see. There were thumbs up from Arabs before Europeans.
Talk us through how you went about establishing it.
I found this supercar club that was 99 per cent men only. And again the drive was not what I was looking for. I said to myself I should do something, I should find my own tribe, and I did and the others found me thanks to social media. But I started to feel I had to share this with other people, so I started with my neighbors and friends and who I knew had the same passion. Then I started posting about my activity, some people said: Hanan we want to be part of this, And here we are.
What challenges did you face?
The distributors are not used to working with women, so I had to convince them that these women are actually buyers and they are missing out on a huge part of this target audience. It’s not easy to tell these people to take us seriously. We have the same questions as guys do. We are drivers, we love it, we can afford it and we are influential. We don’t pretend to know it all, I am an enthusiast, I’m learning as I go.
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How has the response changed?
They are now inviting us to panel discussions, pre-launches – even in the construction stage. Aston Martin wanted to have our opinion on the car!
What benefits can members of Arabian Gazelles enjoy?
You are part of a family of these empowered women. We have monthly events, we do driving experiences, host weekends away, schedule drag races, track days. Through this group women are connecting and even starting businesses together.
How can Arabian Gazelles inspire the next generation of female car enthusiasts?
I do receive a lot of messages which is fantastic. What I love about it is that it’s becoming more than a car club, it’s a movement. I didn’t plan for this, but I am a strong believer that whatever you do with passion, it flies. Recently we have been approached by the Abu Dhabi tourism board who are considering us as ambassadors to the region.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
For me to get all these fantastic women together. We have 28 nationalities and ages ranging from 19 years to 60-years-old. It is amazing to be able to share this passion which makes me and them happy. One of them said I’ve saved her marriage!
What is your personal motto?
Just be yourself.
What else do you hope to achieve in the future?
We receive a lot of requests of what we call ‘International Gazelles’. Eventually we will be able to expand and we are planning internationals rallies. We all need to meet more like-minded women all over the world.