Amna Al Qubaisi: Racer Venturing Into No Arab Woman's Land

Amna Al Qubaisi is one focused and determined 18-year-old as the first Emirati female race car driver.

Revered and adulated, the young athlete-turned-racer, who took a clean break from gymnastics in order to pursue motorsports, Amna hopes to participate in Formula 2 racing by the time she is 23 – and that’s not even her final destination.

She told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, “Formula 1 is the main goal, but it’s not an easy journey — and I’m determined enough to reach that,” as she spoke about Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah Formula E event.

Racing seems to be in Al Qubaisi’s blood as her father is Khaled Al Qubaisi, a Le Mans racing driver who has toured the world of motorsports. Speaking about her father, she says, “When he spoke about racing and how he did different tracks around the world, meeting new drivers – that moment sparked [something in me] and I wanted to try a kart.” Amna’s father gave her a kart and began coaching her – and she has shown no signs of slowing down, since.

Amna Al Qubaisi previously competed in the Formula 4 in Europe and won the UAE’s senior Rotax Max Challenge karting series in 2017. She explains how racing makes her feel, “Whenever I’m in a car, it’s my therapy. It keeps me focused. It’s like when you go to a therapist, that’s who I am when I drive. The car understands me.”

2018 was also a momentous year for the young racer as she spoke about her pride and excitement in being amongst other Arab female women in the world of motorsports at the Ad Diriyah ePrix event. Sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, Amna participated in the Envision Virgin Racing Team Formula E on the street circuit of Ad Diriyah in a fully electric car and said of the energy and excitement of the Saudi locals and attendees at the event, “Seeing so many of the locals watching the race on the stands [was] amazing. We can see how interested these people are in motorsport. That’s already a big step.”

Ad Diriyah’s ePrix made history as it showcased a number of female drivers and highlighted the Saudi government’s pledge to encourage women to drive following the ban lift in June 2018 – at which  

Amna Al Qubaisi expressed her delight and the fact that racing seems to really run in her family with her sister following suit, “I’m glad to be the first — and hopefully I’m not the last. I have my sister [Hamda Al Qubaisi] following my footsteps. Hopefully in the future we see more Arabs involved in motorsports.”

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