How a young Emirati made a career from her passion for cars

Kawthar has the perfect job working at the Yas Marina circuit

Abu Dhabi:  Having had a passion for cars and speed since she was a little girl, Kawthar Bin Sulayem has firmly placed herself in the world of motorsports as Regional Media Manager at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Besides dealing with the media at various events, such as the Grand Prix, which took place in the emirate last year, Kawthar also carries out many duties on the circuit, and helps drivers get in and out of the cars, and she couldn't be more pleased about it. Following are excerpts from an exclusive chat with her:

GULF NEWS: Tell me more about your experience in the circuit. What do you do?

KAWTHAR BIN SULAYEM: I handle all media communications, both in UAE and on the GCC level. At times I had to deal with up to 600 journalists. I am actually incredibly blessed to have a very supportive team and management, who encourage me to learn and try everything in the circuit. I enjoy every single bit of my job. I love hearing the sound of the cars, and talking and interacting with people who hold the same passion.

But why motor sports?
I always wanted a career related to speed and cars since a very young age. I actually started horse riding when I was six, and that shows how much I love speed. As I grew older, I started combining this passion with my love for my community, and began carrying out community drives for children in the Jumeirah area, among other places. For instance, my friends and I would organise drives for autistic children in sports cars, to allow them to gain an experience they might not be able to ever try otherwise.

Then I heard about the Yas Marina Circuit and wanted to be a part of it. As an Emirati, I felt I held the position to advocate this project. It is a great pride and celebration for us as Emiratis, and it is our responsibility to support it.

How did people react to your presence in the circuit? Were you taken seriously?
In the beginning, people didn't expect me to know that much about cars or engines. They thought I was only interested in the job in terms or organising events and so on, but not to actually have extensive knowledge about cars. They were shocked and found it to be very strange, but now they're used to it. Even my friends, guys and girls, now call me up and ask me for automobile advice. They have fully accepted the idea now.

What about your family? Were they supportive of your choice?
My family is incredible, and they are completely behind me in my career. They always come to the circuit and watch the races. My five-year-old niece is crazy about cars. She attends all the races, and always asks me about the dates of up and coming ones. I definitely see a future for her in motorsports. It's in our blood as a family.

What do you hope to see with the Yas Marina Circuit? 
My dream is to have a committee of women that are interested in racing. I want women to come to the circuit, to become certified drivers, and to start being passionate about it. If you don't want to drive, then there are other domains for you to work in; you can organise events or work in marketing, but it is important for more Emirati females to support the circuit.

In my team, there are a lot of Emirati girls and it's great for me to see how they have developed and grown in their interest and knowledge of cars. As for myself, I actually hope to eventually become the first Emirati female certified motorsports driver.

And your car at the moment is?
Right now I drive a Range Rover Sport, but my goal is to eventually own an Aston Martin.

Michael Cox