Dubai: Huda Al Matroushi, 36, an Emirati, was overwhelmed with emotion last week after she received the phone call of her life. It was from none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Sheikh Mohamed congratulated her for making her presence felt in a job, and an industry, that is otherwise dominated by men.
Al Matroushi is a car mechanic who owns her own garage, Imex Car Service, in Sharjah’s Industrial Area 1. She also has a day-time job with Sharjah government where she heads a department. Her passion for and perseverance with her twin responsibilities should send out a strong message to women all over the world that anything is possible, anything is achievable — no limits, no boundaries.
In a video that has gone viral on social media, Al Matroushi is seen speaking to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince on the phone, who is seen congratulating her for achieving a feat that very few women have dared to even attempt.
In an interview with Gulf News, Al Matroushi said her happiness knew no bounds when the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said he was proud of people like her.
“I was in tears when His Highness asked me if I would accept his car for servicing in my garage. I could not help being emotional. It was such a special moment in my life. I felt so proud of being an Emirati that day,” she said.
Al Matroushi has broken gender stereotypes to follow her passion and we were quite pleasantly surprised by the ease with which she went about her work.
A government employee in love with cars
Al Matroushi works for a Sharjah government department during the day, while in the evening, she is seen holding bolsters and pliers, tirelessly repairing cars parked in her garage. So how did this come about?
“When I was young, I used to be curious about toy cars. I wanted to understand the mechanics behind them,” Al Matroushi said.
Today, Al Matroushi can identify car models without even looking at their chassis. The garage she and her father built is a result of Al Matroushi’s dream. With accessories such as wrenches, ratchets, screwdrivers hanging from the wall, this Emirati woman is defying all odds to follow her passion.
“I love what I do. I started doing it 16 years ago, but I opened this garage in 2020,” she said.
In fact, for 16 years, Al Matroushi had been hopping from one garage to another just to familiarise herself with the mechanics of different types of cars. She cut her teeth fixing engines, replacing tyres, doing car maintenance work, undertaking diagnostic testing for vehicles, inspecting vehicles and getting friendly with the electronic systems pertaining to steering, brakes and more.
“One day, in July 2020, I was being driven by my chauffeur. It was peak summer. The AC was not working in my car and I asked my driver if he had refilled the gas for the AC. He said he did and added that the problem was probbaly with the compressor. So we got it replaced. A month later, the air-conditioner stopped working again. Then I asked myself, ‘Why did the compressor fail in just one month?’ I knew for sure the compressor was not original and that was why it had failed. It was then that I decided to set up my own garage, so I could source my products from the right companies.”
Al Matroushi took us to a Porsche parked in her garage. “The client called me to say the car was heating up. I checked the shock absorber and realised that it was not an original one. I asked the client about it, but he did not have any idea. He said he had given his car for servicing and since then he started noticing this problem. So one has to be very careful about where one drops off one’s car for repair.”
Setting an example as a woman
Elaborating on her garage, Al Matroushi said: “When I asked my father to help me build the second floor of my garage, he asked me if I was sure of what I was doing. He said it was a tough job for a woman to handle. I told him it wasn’t tough for me. My staff also sometimes tell me not to dirty my hands, replacing a tyre or checking the level of oil and water in the engine. But I keep telling them that there is no difference between a man and a woman today. Both are equally capable of doing any job.”
Sticking to her roots and her attire
Al Matroushi insists on wearing an ‘abaya’ while working in the garage. She says she really does not find it a hindrance. “It is practical for me to wear an ‘abaya’ as the material is no different from an overall that mechanics usually wear. I am proud of my roots and my ‘abaya’ stays with me even when I am working in the garage,” she said.
Al Matroushi added: “I am not an engineer, but I will be one day. The dream is to expand my garage into a proper car centre that does repair work as well as serves as a hub for car accessories. I do not yet know whether I will ever get that far, but I’m sure my future looks bright.”