Dubai: It’s not just a man’s exclusive domain. The lady marshals who will be on duty at the 41st Gulf News Fun Drive set to take place this weekend (February 11 and 12) are driven by something in common: a passion and love for off-roading.
For the participants, exploring the UAE desert under the guidance of this group will make it more calming and reassuring.
British-Palestinian expat Ruba Husari is one of the volunteer marshals for the drive.
She said: “I don’t see a male marshal any different from a female marshal. We share the same love for off-road adventure, our passion to conquer the dunes is equal. The adrenaline rush when we hit the desert is same. So we are no different,” said Husari who has been a marshal at the Gulf News Fun Drive for over 10 years.
She said: “Desert off-roading has been a passion for me since 2006. I arrived in the UAE in 2005. Soon after, I started learning to drive off-road and it became part of my life in 2006. For over 10 years I have been a marshal on the Fun Drive.”
Husari said women bring wisdom and caution to the table when it comes to off-road desert driving. “Men tend to take more un-calculated risks on the dunes. Women, on the other hand, arecalmer and more in control of the situation.”
At this Gulf News Fun Drive, Husari said she will be happy helping people out of their situation.
“My aim is also to show people the beauty of driving in the desert and experiencing the adrenaline of driving in the dunes. It will be a pleasure showing people parts of the country that they don’t normally see.”
Follow the guidelines
Thilini N.K. Wadugodapitiya, a Sri Lankan, is a first-time marshal on the Gulf News Fun Drive.
She has been an avid off-roader since 2015. “I participated at the Gulf News Fun Drive in 2019 and 2020. This year, I am a marshal for the first time. It feels surreal.”
Wadugodapitiya who will be revving her 4x4 vehicle on the dunes has one simple advise to participants: follow the guidelines set up by the Fun Drive marshals and route director in order to avoid being stuck on the dunes.
She also gave a check list that participants must carry along the drive.
What to bring
“A tyre pressure gauge, deflator, spare tyre are some must haves for participants. I would also advise one to get an air compressor, flag, shovel out as well.”
An experienced off-roader, Wadugodapitiya said participants must ensure their car fluids are checked and topped up.
“Make sure your car is serviced before the drive and check for any technical faults. Participants can do visual checks of their tyres to see there are no cracks on the side walls. They must fill up their fuel tanks before they head out. Deflate the tyres to 15 psi as recommended,” she said.
Word of caution
Japanese expat Azusa Shiraki is another marshal on duty. She also cautioned participants to do their due checks and stay safe on the dunes.
Shiraki, who will be on her red Jeep Rubicon, is ready to help distressed off-roaders. She advised newcomers to be comfortable and not push themselves in the dunes.
No crazy stunts, please
“We are here to help you. But take it easy and enjoy the ride. For the more experienced off-roaders, I would ask them not try out crazy stunts. It can be dangerous for beginners who may try to imitate and regret it later.”
Pakistani marshal at the Gulf News Fun Drive, Sahar Riaz, said her passion for off-roading has got her this far.
“In the the UAE. I have been an avid off-roader. I co-marshalled with Muhammed Sarwar who trained me so well to be a marshal.”
Riaz said she has done her due prep for the big day and advised participants to do the same.
“Get your route coordinates and make sure they are in place. Fix the switch that controls the traction of your vehicle. Last but not the least, know your call well. Get it serviced and try and learn everything about your car before you head out to the dunes,” said Riaz.
Indian marshals Sonal Rajesh and Nida Fatmi, too, are all set for the Fun Drive. Rajesh has been off-road driving for years said there is no bigger fun that to actually drive your car out in the desert.
Rajesh who is taking her Jeep Wrangler – JL 2019 to the Fun Drive said as a lady marshal, she will be out there giving a message to more women to join the bandwagon of women marshals.
“We are a force and we have your back,” said Rajesh who will be carrying a kinetic rope, shovel, compressor to inflate tyres, deflator, spare tyres all inside her Jeep. “These essentials will come with me on the drive.”
Fatmi said: “Leave your fear and enjoy the ride. Don’t be aggressive, just follow the safety guidelines.”