Emirati driver Saeed Al Mehairi. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirati driver Saeed Al Mehairi believes there is no better time for aspiring drivers in the UAE to enter motorsport than now and has spoken on the importance of giving back to the community where he regularly shares his experience as a coach.

The 35-year-old is one of the most recognisable faces in the UAE motorsport scene with his highlights being a former Hankook 24 Hours Dubai race winner in a career that has seen him compete in various regional motorsport competitions.

He has also represented some top teams including Rabdan Motorsport and Dragon Racing.

It is even more impressive given he had trained as a pilot before switching to motorsport after he was introduced to go-karting in his early 20s at Dubai Autodrome. The venue was vital to his development on the track and the sport is now a passion of his. And after seeing the growth over the last decade, he had nothing but praise for the UAE sport’s authorities in helping boost the popularity of the sport.

Numbers increasing

He said: “Motorsport has always been in my blood, so it is wonderful to see where we are at today in the UAE in terms of drivers, facilities and competitions. I remember when I first started my career, there used to be 25 people signing up for activities on the track because it was relatively new back then but now, we are seeing that number increase because of the popularity of the sport and the facilities and programmes that have been put in place.

“There are many programmes available today for people to get their first experience of driving on a racetrack or get a better understanding of motorsport. This is great as it is helping get more people interested in the sport.

“At the same time, the UAE has become a global sporting destination where many elite motorsport events are being held and this not only helps attract the world’s best drivers in their disciplines but is also giving a chance for drivers from across the region to compete as they know it will be high-standard races that will help in their personal development. So this is a great period where we are seeing more interest in motorsport in the UAE which is good for the sport going forward.”

Away from his full-time role as an Operations Manager at his family business which specialises in government and medical services, Al Mehairi is also passing on his valuable experience to individuals as a driving instructor at Dubai Autodrome or a coach for some local teams.

He believes it is important to give back to the community as he feels he has a responsibility to play a part in helping the sport develop and show how exciting it can be.

Enjoyable time

He said: “Dubai Autodrome offers some very exciting driving experiences in some extraordinary cars so it’s my job to ensure they have an enjoyable time. Driving on the track is completely different to driving on a normal road and this is where I guide them on how to drive on a circuit and give them an understanding of what motorsport can entail. While the aim is for them to have fun, I also explain what areas he needs to improve on and what their strengths are, so that if the person comes back, they will know what to focus on.”

He added: “I really want to encourage as many people as possible to race which is why I’m regularly giving up my time to coach, outside my full-time job. Motorsport is a very expensive sport and when people try it for the first few weeks, they can be sometimes disappointed with how they perform. But it takes time to develop and learn – something that I found out myself during my career when I moved to France to compete in a championship.

“This is where coaching becomes important where I want to inspire the next stars of tomorrow. I’m always up-to-date with events around the world so helping people get on the track is something that I enjoy doing as it will not only benefit them but also the UAE motorsport landscape.”