Rabab Al Tajir Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

As the UAE’s first woman navigator at international car rallies, Rabab Al Tajir is an unusual woman with an unusual passion. Events, people and her own personality working together in a series of twists of fate brought her to the sport, that has today made her into something of a celebrity. Years ago, as an HR consultant at a Dubai-based organisation, she was required to drive frequently to Oman, spending hours on the road, very often at night. The sense of independence and the adventure of driving alone on long mountain roads were an adrenaline rush and probably an early precursor for her passion.
This multi-faceted rebel is most defined by her long love affair with cars. “I am equally fascinated by the feeling of being in the thick of a car rally as I am by the delicate beauty of ballet. Both are equally challenging for me,” she says.
Growing up, Rabab enjoyed a lifestyle that exposed her to multicultural influences and varied experiences. Her father Ahmad Al Tajir was the UAE’s first ambassador to Morocco, and was the strongest influence in her early years. His progressive views encouraged both Rabab and her brother Rida to stand on their own feet at an early age. Her father’s death when she was just 13 was a devastating setback for young Rabab, but she pulled through the difficult period, emerging stronger. Later, she returned to Dubai to study, later returning to the West to complete high school in Washington DC and graduate in human resource management from the London College of Management.
Determined to prove that women can take on any challenge, she began participating in rallies from 2004. Her strong personality, her outspoken nature and her love and knowledge of cars drew the attention of Lebanese driver Richie Hoenin who approached her to be his navigator for the Ras Al Khaimah national Rally. She barely had three hours of training before the race but on her first rally, she finished eighth out of 30 participating cars.
From then there was no holding her back, and she has taken part in several rallies since, including the Abu Dhabi International Desert Challenge 2009 and 2010. “Winning is not always important, participating is. It is only your own experiences that can teach you this,” she says.