Khaled Al Qubaisi is one of the most accomplished and well respected figures in UAE motorsport, and now his daughters are set to carry the family legacy into the future.
Among his many motor racing achievements, Al Qubaisi, who has raced three times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has won the Dubai 24 Hour twice, in 2012 and 2013, and the Yas Marina 12-Hour Race, also in 2013,
His daughters, 21-year-old Amna and 19-year-old Hamda, are well on their way to emulating their father. Both sisters have graduated from Karting to Formula racing, and Al Qubaisi believes Amna and Hamda will become role models for a new generation of racing drivers.
"They have a bright future," Al Qubaisi, managing director of Abu Dhabi Motorsports, told The National. "Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that we have two great Emirati female drivers in Formula racing professionally and competing at this level.
“That is taking nothing away from them as racing drivers, but they are a great image booster to the UAE, the region and the Arab nations.
“They are not just female drivers but competitive female drivers. They have amazed the motor racing fraternity in Italy, as they were the only two female drivers among the 30-odd male drivers.
“It’s something to be proud of as a country to have such great drivers to demonstrate the talent and success of Emirati females.”
Amna is in Formula-3 and a member of the champion Prema Team that won the Asian team championship by a wide margin when the event was held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in February.
Hamda is also part of Prema Team and travelled to Italy three weeks ago for a rigid programme of testing and training where she was in the top five in the speed test. She will compete in the F4 Italian and German championship in April and May and will continue with her schooling in Italy until October.
“[Prima Team] won’t take anyone other than those with potential because they want to be the best team,” Al Qubaisi said. “Amna had the privilege of being selected for them. It’s not just about the money, because there are many drivers with big budgets who can pay to be in a top team.
“But teams choose drivers based on talent, personality, character, commitment, discipline and so many other things. So when they choose Amna and Hamda to be part of their team that is a big statement in itself."
Amna Al Qubaisi wins first Formula 4 UAE race
Amna's prodigious racing career has involved breaking plenty of barriers. Having started karting in 2014 at the age of 14, she became the first female Arab to participate at the Rotax Max Challenge World Finals the following year.
In 2017, Amna won the UAE RMC Championship – the first Arab female to do so. As she progressed through the motor racing ranks, success followed her, including the 2018 Italian F4 Championship with Prema.
Hamda, meanwhile, has closely followed in her older sister's footsteps. Over two years racing in the UAE, she had six wins – one with a winning margin of nearly 11 seconds – and eight pole positions. In Europe, Hamda has managed three top 10s spots in her first season.
“This has been the most competitive seasons for both Hamda in F4 and Amna in F3," Al Qubaisi said. "They are very talented. I know someone who has been in motorsports for a long time and he tells me ‘your girls have the potential to reach F1 level’."
As for most aspiring racing drivers, Formula One is the ultimate goal for Amna and Hamda. “Otherwise, we won’t be wasting our time and energy,” Al Qubaisi said. “Of course, they still have a long way to go and a lot of support required to get them there.
“I think they have the talent. It’s just a matter of time and a combination of performances and results. They have been delivering it so far and have impressed in whatever was needed from them to take the next step.”
One possible avenue is the W-Series – the all-female championship, which offers winning drivers the chance to race in Formula 2, the traditional stepping stone to F1.
“In the W-series they will be racing alongside F1 drivers, providing them the exposure to compete,” Al Qubaisi said. “The winner of the race gets the opportunity to race in F2, so we are looking at this and talking to them.”