Supercar fan Hanan Mazouzi Sobati has loved fast cars from a young age. Growing up watching Formula One and being inspired by some of the world’s most famous drivers, the female petrolhead had a dream of creating a women’s only supercar club that would allow ladies to have unique driving experiences and come together to share a common passion of driving.
At first, it seemed like this was just a dream, to create something that would be so unusual in a world that was traditionally dominated by men, but Hanan fulfilled her passion and successfully launched Arabian Gazelles in 2016.
The UAE’s first and only women’s only supercar club has attracted hundreds of ladies from over twenty nationalities. This growing community regularly comes together for experiences and drives that allow women to express their love of supercars. Hanan Mazouzi Sobati has defied the odds to create this group which goes against the rules of a sector that has predominately been led by men. Here, we discuss with Hanan what inspired her to take the leap to launch her own company and the challenges she faces as a woman in a man’s world.
What first attracted you to the world of supercars?
Ever since I was young I have had a passion for fast cars, I always enjoyed watching Formula One and I was inspired by driving legends such as Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.
What inspired you to set up your business “Arabian Gazelles”?
One of the main reasons was my growing frustration with the automotive industry and the way in which women were overlooked in this male-dominated sector. It seemed that people just accepted it but no one did anything about it. So I decided to start the platform and discover if there were other women with the same passion as me who wanted to join me in building this community. We have now grown to over 125 members from more than 20 nationalities.
Why did you decide to keep it as women only?
Because the whole world is a man’s club! So for me, it was natural to create a space for women to enjoy our passion, network and empower each other. Having said that, I’m not trying to create a sexist, anti-man movement, we do invite our member’s husbands and partners to join our experiences from time to time.
Who is the woman that Arabian Gazelles appeals to?
Someone who is passionate, confident and adventurous.
Can you tell us about some of the activities that are organised for the women?
We have a lot of awareness rallies for charities, luxury driving experiences, track days, drag races, exclusive drive-and-stay weekends, high-octane luxury events and challenges days where we include the Arabian Gazelle’s male partners too!
Traditionally, supercars have been seen as something that appeals to men – how do you think they also appeal to women in today’s society?
It’s no longer the case and we are here to prove it. We love driving high-performance cars, we love their engineering, their agility and handling, their style, torque, and engine power. We don’t want to sit in passenger seats cheerleading men, we want to be leading women’s rallies and convoys and enjoying sharing our passion with like-minded women.
What are the challenges you have faced in the sense of being a woman in an industry that has traditionally been ruled by men?
Challenges were inevitable as it is an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. We were met with objections and derogatorily comments by a few but these same people soon realised that we share the same genuine pleasure for driving our cars. They also realised that some of us bought our cars with our own money and some were lucky enough to afford this luxury and are grateful for it.
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far with Arabian Gazelles?
There are too many to mention! We have been nominated for many awards in the visionary categories and as a business and these are the moments that are the biggest achievements for me.
What’s the most surprising reaction you’ve ever had to your company?
There was an event organized by the Abu Dhabi tourism board and international VIPs had requested a drive with the Arabian Gazelles during their stay. They have never come across a club like this before, let alone in this part of the world, so we were really glad to have this opportunity to change the mindset of these people and show the world what a progressive and empowering county we live in.
How would you describe the experience you are trying to create for the women that are part of your community?
I’m creating unique experiences that money can’t buy. I want them to be engaging, thrilling and fulfilling for the ladies.
What is something that you would still like to achieve that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
I want to have a racing licence. This is what I plan to achieve this year.
What does the coming year have in store for you?
Potentially a TV documentary or series about Arabian Gazelles, which will highlight the profiles of some of the fabulous empowered women that making up our group.
What can you tell us about your business in Saudi Arabia since, especially since the driving ban for women was lifted?
This is still in progress but it is something we are working on for sure.
Who or what is your inspiration?
I am inspired by my passion.
What advice would you give to women who want to set up a business that is perhaps a little out of the box but are afraid to take the leap?
Take the leap and you will figure out along the way. Life is too short and far too precious to waste time going through the motions and choosing the safe options. These are distractions from what will really bring us joy.
How do you deal with failures or setbacks?
Failures and setbacks are progress in disguise. I acknowledge them, embrace and learn from them.
What is your favourite car to drive?
All supercars are incredibly tempting to own! I don’t have a particular favourite, It’s impossible for me to choose just one.
Which car do you drive to when you want to relax?
A Morgan Aero SuperSport.
What are the professional and personal mottos that you live by?
Always be yourself, except if you can be a Gazelle… then always be a Gazelle! A second one would stay humble, original and real.