Beautiful nail art isn’t the first thing you would notice, though it is one of those attention seeking things alongside hot dust, hot hair, customized street cars, engine oils, tracks on roads, people cheering around, helicopters on air, soldiers on fields, puffy one piece racing suits and Women racers. Oh yes, the First Palestinian Women Car Racers!
Breaking the stereotypes, these women racers are giving a befitting reply to the male dominated country and conservative society. This world’s first female racers are a brand now in occupied Palestine. Meet Maysoon Jayyusi, Mona Ali, Marah Zahalka, Noor Daoud, and Betty Saadeh who are also a subject of a documentary by Amber Fares titled Speed Sisters. At an international documentary festival in Sheffield, this documentary was played full house.
Maysoon Jayyusi, the team’s 38-year-old team manager from Jerusalem, lives in Jordan
Image Courtesy: scoopwhoop.com
She says her love for racing-car driving came from the frustration of being stuck in the West Bank’s constant traffic jams and checkpoints. “It’s true that, when we first started, people looked at us as though we’d just landed from space,” she says. “But when they saw us race they changed their minds. Now we have fans, people who encourage us and sponsor us.”
She thinks female racing-car drivers becoming a formidable force within the Arab world is just like anything else in any other place: “You prove that you are strong enough, not scared, that you can compete with the men,” she says. “And then it just becomes acceptable.”
Mona Ali, 29, from Ramallah, who was one of the first female racers in Palestine.
Image source: scoopwhoop.com
“I was racing cars when I was a kid, learning how to do it, speeding with the boys from school,” says Ali. When she was 16 and too young to have a licence, she would borrow her sister’s car and race through the deserted night streets of Ramallah.
She was the first woman to join the fledgling Palestinian racing federation in 2005
Marah Zahalka, 23, who was a racing champion at 19
Image Source: karage.tv
Marah says her father is her number one fan and her family has supported her passion endlessly. Instead of buying land to build a home for the family, they used the money to buy a car for Marah.
Noor Dauod, 25, who is also from Jerusalem,
Image source: speedsisters.tv
She is one of the youngest who is determinedly relentless, if not always successful on the race track.
Betty Saadeh, 35, the only member who comes from a wealthy family of racers in Bethlehem
Image Source: www.iol.co.za
Having a documentary filmed, Speed Sisters are a brand today. It was never an easy thing though, many problems they faced by living and training at West Bank. They don’t have car-racing tracks, and the women can’t afford actual racing vehicles, so end up customizing standard street cars to race against male teams. They practise on stretches of land next to Israeli military compounds, where, at one point in the documentary, one of them is hit by a tear-gas tin fired by a soldier.
You only put yourself in tough times, when you love the sport with all your heart and soul. Speed Sisters have disapproved the cliche : Women Cannot Drive and have given them an example of contrary. So Ladies, are you the next to prove yourself?