Ruba Husari has been off-road driving for over 14 years now and she’s all set to show off her expertise once again at the Gulf News Fun Drive.
The British-Palestinian first grew fond of the desert in Saudi Arabia. “I fell in love with Rub’ Al Khali [desert],” she said.
Rub Al Khali is the desert that spans through various countries including parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is part of the larger Arabian Desert.
She moved to the UK from Saudi Arabia, and then moved to Dubai eventually. In the UAE, she could once again explore her love for the desert and she soon adopted the hobby of off-road driving.
“Initially I joined an off-roading club when I moved to Dubai from London in 2006. That’s where I learnt to drive the dunes and interpret them,” she said.
However, she noted that such skills are perfected over time.
“It’s a technique you learn and once you perfect it, nothing you come across in the desert is too challenging to tackle. Though you never stop learning, even till today,” she said.
The consultant in the oil industry has been attending the Gulf News Fun Drive for years now.
“It’s an event all desert lovers love to participate in, share their experience and introduce newcomers to safe driving in the desert,” she said.
Husari is not only a marshal at the event but also part of the sweep team. The sweep team is in place to ensure that no participant in the team gets left behind.
“Our task as marshals is to keep people safe while enjoying the drive, help them when they get themselves into trouble in the sand and as part of the sweep team, my colleagues and I have to make sure no one is left behind in the desert when night falls,’ she said.
Throughout the years Husari has been actively participating in the event and serving as a marshal. She said that the environment has been supportive and she has not faced any setbacks in the male-dominated sport.
“The rules are the same for all marshals regardless of gender; you have to be sensible, responsible, disciplined and put safety above anything else when you are driving in the desert,” she said.
Husari said that over the years she has noticed that some participants come unprepared and warned that some sort of familiarity with the vehicle they are using is needed.
“Over the years, what has amused me most is people who have just acquired their four-wheel drive and are taking it to the desert for the first time on the Fun Drive and yet they haven’t read the manual and have no clue what the different gears in their car are for. I see this year after year,” she said.
Husari said that this can sometimes come in the way of maximising their time at the event.
“Such people don’t go far on the Fun Drive, they are too slow compared to others and we have sometimes to ask them to quit the rest of the route if they don’t make it to a certain point before the cut-off time,” she added.
The experienced off-roader gave Gulf News readers some tips:
- Check your vehicle before coming
“My advice to participants is first make sure your car is in perfect condition, you don’t want to miss the adventure because of a silly mechanical failure,” she said
- Off route? Don’t panic
“If you get off route, don’t panic. Communicate your position and marshals will find you and get you back on track,” she advised.
- Anyone can get stuck
If you’re stuck, get out and dig,” she said.
- Deflate your tyres
“If you want to avoid getting stuck in sand, make sure you deflate your tyres to the recommended pressure (14-16 PSI),” she said.
Accessible for everyone
“The Fun Drive route is designed to be accessible to everyone ...,” she said.
Husari advises people to be prepared and a great time is guaranteed at the Gulf News Fun Drive.