Female car repair shop owner blazes a trail in the UAE

Published 26 Apr, 2021 09:33am

Her family was initially doubtful but her father took a leap of faith with her.

Huda al Matrooshi cleans her hands at her garage in Sharjah.—Reuters
Huda al Matrooshi cleans her hands at her garage in Sharjah.—Reuters

Huda al-Matroushi is one of few Emirati women to venture into the car repair business, an industry that has long been dominated by men in the Arab world.

“I enjoy it a lot,” says Matroushi, holding up her oil-stained work glove. “Because I’m on top of my job, and it’s my business, I belong to it: I feel proud of myself.” Cars have been a hobby for Matroushi, 36, since childhood.

“I like cars and their models and their details. I like sports cars, I like luxurious cars, even normal non-luxurious cars, I love them all.” She turned that passion into a profession and now owns and manages a car repair shop in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Matroushi’s family had doubts about her pursuing a job in car mechanics, but she asked her father to take a leap of faith with her.

“I said: ‘Dad, please trust me and you will see what I will do.’ He said: ‘OK, OK!’. Most of my family are surprised ... because this project, this business, it’s not easy for ladies,” she said.

Matroushi’s male employee, Mohammed Halawani, said it was initially strange to see a woman in charge of the garage.

“But after I joined and we started working and she’d tell me: disassemble this, assemble that, [it was clear] that she has experience.” Matroushi hopes she can transform her single garage into a big repair centre, or open more garages across the UAE.

The UAE stipulates under new legislation that came into effect last month that UAE-based companies must have at least one woman on their board of directors.

Originally published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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