The Arabian Gazelles: Shifting Gears on Supercar Stereotypes

Hanan Mazouzi Sobati established the Arabian Gazelles, the first women-only supercar club in Dubai. She reveals how challenging the norms of a traditionally male-dominated space has paved the way for women to pursue their passion for horsepower.

February 17, 2024 3:31 PM

By: MPH Team

Dubai, known for its grandeur and luxury, is no stranger to the powerful rev of supercars on its highways. Yet, among those roars, a distinct rumble echoes the streets — one that resonates with determination, courage, and empowerment. This is the tune of the Arabian Gazelles, the world’s first all-female supercar club.



Challenging Stereotypes at Every Turn


At the helm of this revolutionary club is Hanan Mazouzi Sobati. She has been instrumental in rewriting the narrative about Arab women and driving. While Saudi Arabia only recently began to allow women behind the wheel, Sobati had already ignited her dream, founding the Arabian Gazelles in 2016. Today, the club boasts over 50 devoted members, each sharing an unwavering love for high-speed luxury cars.


The journey, however, hasn't been without its roadblocks. Sobati has often encountered skepticism and astonishment from men unaccustomed to seeing women mastering such powerful machines. Drawing from her personal experiences in the male-dominated world of supercar clubs, Sobati recounts an interview where she was confronted by a male psychologist who associated a woman's passion for such extreme sports with marital problems – highlighting the ingrained gender stereotypes she had to navigate over the years.






The Middle Eastern Perspective on Women and Driving


For many in the West, the idea of women being supercar enthusiasts may not seem out of the ordinary. However, in certain regions such as Saudi Arabia, this concept is unorthodox. Up until 2018, a ban prevented Saudi women from driving. This ban wasn't just a constraint on transportation —it represented a deeper societal belief that limited women's mobility, freedom, and autonomy.


When Saudi Arabia finally lifted this ban, it was more than just a legislative change. It signified a new era, recognizing the rights of women, their capabilities, and nudging the entire region towards a more equitable future.



The Driving Force Behind the Arabian Gazelles


Against a backdrop of societal change, Hanan Mazouzi Sobati established the Arabian Gazelles. She was motivated by the evident bias she encountered on Dubai's racetracks, where male drivers often disregarded their female counterparts. In response, Sobati sought to create a sanctuary for female enthusiasts. Here, women could not only revel in their shared passion for supercars, but also drive forward a change in cultural perspectives.


Originating from Algeria, Sobati lived in Britain and Qatar before making the UAE her home for nearly a quarter-century. A sports car enthusiast, she once participated in the Rallye des ­Princesses, a female-focused rally in France. Being a mother to two teen daughters, she aimed to uplift women in a sector dominated by men. Thus, in 2016, she founded the Arabian Gazelles, bringing together like-minded women who shared her passion for supercars.


The name 'Arabian Gazelles' draws inspiration from the desert gazelle native to the region, an animal celebrated for its agility, keen vision, and swift speed. These qualities mirror the attributes of the club's members and their beloved vehicles. 



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Impact and Legacy of the Gazelles


Comprising women from diverse backgrounds—from entrepreneurs to executives, to homemakers—each Gazelle shares an authentic love for speed and luxury. The club, which began as a single track day event in 2016, blossomed via word-of-mouth and the power of social media. 


Their influence has not gone unnoticed. Major automotive brands and manufacturers from McLaren to Michelin, began recognizing the Gazelles' potential, and have come forward as sponsors for their events. Even BMW invited the Gazelles for a dialogue, motivated to understand their female audience on a deeper level.



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A Vision Extending Borders


The next step for Arabian Gazelles is to branch out internationally, in response to an overwhelming amount of global requests from women eager to be a part of the club. With aspirations to establish branches like the "Gazelles of South Africa" and the "Gazelles of the USA", Sobati’s vision is to connect with like-minded women across continents who share a passion for speed.


In her views on wider societal issues, Sobati feels that Arab nations urgently need more tolerance and female role models across various domains. She envisions a promising future for the region, anticipating that as more women launch businesses and shatter stereotypes, they will pave the way for countless other marginalized groups.






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