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Women from all walks of life got behind the wheels of supercars, hatchbacks and also rode motorcycles during the rally Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: More than 200 women drove cars and bikes in a fun drive in Dubai today in support of women’s empowerment during the ‘Abaya Rally’, held as part of celebrations in the lead up to Emirati Women’s Day (August 28).

Abaya is a long traditional overgarment worn by women in the UAE and other countries. The rally stands as a tribute to the ‘Power of Abayas’, celebrating its cultural significance while uniting women from varied backgrounds.

On Saturday, the third edition of the Abaya Rally saw women - and some men - take to the circuit at Dubai Autodrome. Women from all walks of life, including motoring enthusiasts, got behind the wheel of supercars, hatchbacks and rode motorbikes as well.

Pragna Vaya, founder and managing director of Orbit Events and Promotions - organisers of Abaya Rally 2023 - said the idea behind hosting the event is to celebrate Emirati women as well as women from around the world.

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Women from the UAE and other countries rallied for the cause during the event Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Perfect timing

“The timing could not be better as we celebrate Emirati Women’s Day. Back in 2020, we conceptualised a rally with a focus on the traditions and cultures of the UAE. Hence the idea of an Abaya Rally came about. While the first edition took place in December, we moved it close to Emirati Women’s Day to celebrate the day and women from around the world,” she added.

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This is the third time the rally has been held in the UAE Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Vaya said that following the success of the first edition, a ‘Kandura Rally’ - named after the traditional attire of Arab men - was also launched. “It’s a way to connect people with adventure the culture of UAE and bring like-minded people into a single platform.”

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The rally brought together familiar faces and forged new friendships as well Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

‘Great moment’

Maggie Simak, a Czech expat in Dubai, was rode her Harley-Davidson Sport Glide motorcycle at the Abaya Rally on Saturday.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate women and women empowerment. I had the opportunity to spend a day with fellow women riders and it was a great moment. Women need to celebrate women through and through. It was also great to see men in support of a day dedicated to women empowerment,” she said.

Maggie Simak at Abaya Rally 2023 in Dubai
Maggie Simak Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

The rally also saw three friends coming together for the celebration of women. Emirati Hanan Al Kharoossi, who was riding her Suzuki GSXR 750 sports bike, joined her friends Hafida Drici (from Algeria) on her Harley Davidson Road King and Sara Barakat (from Egypt) on a Harley Davidson Super Low 883.

(from right) Hanan Al Kharoossi, Hafida Drici, and Sara Barakat at Abaya Rally 2023 in Dubai
(from right) Hanan Al Kharoossi, Hafida Drici, and Sara Barakat Image Credit: Anjana Kumar/Gulf News

“The motoring world brought us together. We love riding our bikes. It is our passion and in that we have found friendship. We have created so many memories together and the Abaya Rally 2023 is yet another fantastic memory we have created,” she said.

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The fun drive was also meant to highlight the achievements of women in region Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Bahraini expat Fadhel Khaled Al Jahromi, president of the UAE Mustang Knights Club, was present at the event with his club members and his customised Mustang vehicle.

“We are here to support Emirati women in the Abaya Rally. It’s an honour for us to ride with women alongside. It’s great to see that there are so many women riders today,” he said.

At the event there were a host of activations, including from Zulekha Hospital, which was doing health checks at the venue.

Activities and awards

The celebrations will continue on Sunday at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, including a panel discussion on ‘Driving Change Together: Empowering Women for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ at 7.30pm. The panellists include Maitha Al Blooshi, Ghada Al Fardan, Helena Hijazi and Dr Majida Al Azazi.

Sunday’s event will include a red carpet, a modest fashion show, panel discussions spotlighting pioneering women, and ‘Women of Achievement Awards’. These awards pay homage to a select group of trailblazing Emirati women who are charting new paths across diverse fields.

The rally is organised by Orbit Events, powered by Castrol, in association with Al Fardan Jewellery, and supported by leading brands like Al Ain Farms, Al Haramain Perfumes, Zulekha Hospital, Hanayen Abaya, Aaraya, Fit N Glam, Mattel – Barbie, Huda Beauty, Kayali, Wishful.