The al-Qubaisi sisters (right) with Reema Juffali (left) and Scottish driver Logan Hannah at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP
The motorsport scene in the Gulf States and the Middle East has only recently opened up to female drivers. In the case of Saudi Arabia, women only gained the right to hold driving licenses in 2019. Reema Juffali is the first Saudi female racer.
Other countries have a more liberal policy and have a longer history of female motorsport competitors.
Noor Daoud – racer and drifter from Israel/Palestine. In drifting, she competes all over the Middle East, in a BMW. She has also been active in mostly unofficial circuit racing in the West Bank since 2010, and is one of the “Speed Sisters”, a group of female racers from Palestine who have had a film made about them. In 2011, she raced a Formula Renault in the first legal Israeli race meeting, Formula Israel, in Eilat. She was third in a women’s race, and may have won another. Noor was born in the USA, and is a former international footballer for Palestine.
Martyna al-Qassab - Polish-born driver who races in her adopted country of Bahrain. She races in the Bahrain 2000cc Challenge and is the first female driver to do so. Her first car was a Renault Clio, which has now been replaced by an Acura DCS. She was fourth in the first round of the 2019-2020 championship. The previous year, she was a leading driver in the Novice class, winning at least one race. She is the founder of a Bahraini women’s motoring organisation, Yalla Banat, which has attempted to hold the biggest-ever women-only track parade at the Sakhir circuit in 2019.
Hamda al-Qubaisi - Abu Dhabi-born driver who began her senior racing career in 2019, in Formula 4. She competed against her older sister Amna al-Qubaisi in the last rounds of the Italian F4 championship at Red Bull Ring and Monza. Her best finish was 21st at Monza. She did better in the UAE F4 race that supported the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualifying third and finishing fifth in her first race. She ran into problems in the second and was eleventh. She will contest the UAE F4 championship over the wineter season and has already picked up second places at Dubai and Yas Marina, alongside a series of pole positions.
Farah al-Sabah – driver from Kuwait, active in sportscar racing in the Middle East. In 2015, she competed in the NGK Racing Series in the UAE, driving a McLaren GT Sprint with Leon Price, from South Africa. So far, she has recorded two class wins, at Dubai Autodrome. She also races karts in the UAE, in the Sodi World Series.
(Image copyright UAE F4 Official Instagram)