Sunday, December 08, 2019

Drifting through the prejudices


By Marc Henry - October 29, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [sport]

Palestinian Noor Daoud, 26, is the only female drift racer in the Middle East taking on a male-dominated sport.

“Full speed, control, smoke, difficult angles. That is what I want.”
 
The words come from Noor Daoud, a woman with gasoline running through her veins, and a need for speed and an adrenaline kick.
 
Currently based in Dubai, Daoud has tried all sorts of sports. Born in Houston, Texas, Daoud was trained by one of the world’s best tennis coaches and was a talented football player.
 
However, coming to Ramallah at the age of 16, fast cars became her real passion.
 
“When I came to Ramallah I became a part of the Women’s national football team and was a part of the Asian Games for women,” Daoud told Palestine Monitor.
 
“I stopped playing football because I didn’t feel it was the sport that I wanted. I was into cars, and had a collection of cars at home.”
 
A need for speed
 
Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, losing traction in the rear wheels or all tires while maintaining control and driving through the entirety of a corner. However, Noor Daoud driving career started in a more traditional branch of racing.
 
“When I came to Palestine I saw all these modified cars on the side of the road. I asked the guys about their cars, and they said I could join them for a race the next day,” Daoud said.
 
And so she did. The next day Daoud took her mother’s car and went to the race.
 
“It was a typical race against the clock. I did that for two or three years, and then in 2012, I started drifting by myself,” Daoud explained.
 
According to Daoud, she quickly began to find speed racing boring, which is why she started drifting instead.
 
“I just did not get an adrenaline kick out of it anymore,” she revealed.
 
Support and stigma
 
Daoud is no longer racing in her mother’s car. However, her mother’s support has perhaps been one of the strongest reasons why she is a respected drift racer today.
 
“[My mum] is the one who has supported me all the way. Without her I would not be where I am today, she has pushed me all the way,” Daoud said.
 
“She is the one, there is no one else.”
 
However, it has not always been easy for Daoud making a name for herself in a male-dominated sport.
 
“Not everybody loves what I am doing. Some people were asking what I was doing, saying I was wasting my time in a man’s sport,” she said.
 
“In Palestine, I had some negative energy around me from people telling me I would never get anywhere, but I ignored that and did what I wanted to do, and now I’m successful.”
 
In 2015, along with four other Palestinian women, Daoud was pictured in a documentary film drawing attention to women making a name for themselves in motorsport. The women became known as the 'Speed Sisters’.
 
 “We met each other in Palestine and came from different cities. We were the first female team in the Middle East. Today not all are racing anymore, but it was a great thing at the time,” Daoud said.
 
“In Palestine, people respect me because I made it and is the only female racer in the Middle East,” said Noor Daoud. Photo: Naim Chadiac.
 
Becoming a role model
 
While Noor Daoud might be the most successful driver of the 'Speed Sisters’, she is not only drifting for her own sake. Every time she gets behind the wheel she is not just doing it for the women of Palestine but for women all over the world.
 
“I want to show the world that Palestinian women are not just under occupation and sitting at home waiting to get married,” she said.
 
“There is another side where women can believe in what they want to do. Women should be able to live out their dreams.
 
Earlier this month, Daoud competed as the only woman in a race in Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt. While it was just another race for the Palestinian, she felt she made a difference.
 
“I feel that I inspired a lot of women there because so many Egyptian women came up to me and asked me about my sport. I feel like a role model for them.”
 
Palestine is home
 
Noor Daoud today is based in Dubai, having moved there for the love of her sport. It simply was not possible to develop any further in occupied Palestine.
 
“In Palestine, there are not any tracks or anywhere to train. I used to drift in front of the Israeli checkpoint at the Ofer prison in Betunia,” she said.
 
Though she was often harassed by the Israeli military.
 
“They dropped teargas on us, and one day they began shooting with live bullets. That was when I had enough and decided to move to Dubai.”
 
While Dubai might be the right place for Daoud to be regarding her career as a drift racer, she is dreaming of returning to live in Palestine one day.
 
“Palestine is my country and where I am from. Palestine means everything to me. Maybe one day I can do something for the people of Palestine to support them and inspire them,” she said.
 
While Palestine limited Daoud opportunities in her sport, the dream is to comeback help other Palestinians to achieve their dreams in their own country.
 
“We are under occupation and fighting for our freedom and at the same time do what we love. We have dreams, and are fighting for them,” she said.
 
“I want things to happen in Palestine, and I want to do events there. Maybe I can do an event in the streets of Ramallah one day.”
 
Lead image by Naim Chadiac.

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