Having spent over 20 years in Dubai – via the UK and Qatar – Algerian-expat Hanan Sobati is more than familiar with the luxury market. When someone resides in an Emirate that embodies the attitude “more is more”, it is inevitable. This is evident on the tarmac-ed spine of Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Road, where even the police officers are driving Lamborghinis.
As a keen driver and supercar enthusiast, Sobati revelled in her passion. However, she was frustrated by the “boys’ club” mentality that prevailed in the automotive industry. Not one to simply sit pretty in the passenger seat, she sought to challenge the status quo and champion the women in the sector.
In 2017, she founded Arabian Gazelles, a prestigious motor club that now has over 100 members from over 20 countries. These days, she travels around the world to test-drive the latest models and share her feedback with luxury car makers, encouraging the sector to recognize the buying power of women.
On a grander scale, Sobati is hoping to empower women to realise their full potential. closer to home, she is seeking to inspire her two children to step forward with passion and confidence on their chosen path.
In this edition of Seize The Day, Charley Larcombe speaks to Hanan Sobati on developing your skills, how your comfort zone is the enemy, and that life is just too short to drive boring cars.
I am an early riser. I prepare for the day ahead by focusing on myself and my health with no interruptions or distractions.
Before seeing or talking to anyone, I hit my home gym. I am at my best when I have done my daily workout and hit my 10,000 steps. I crave the boost and energy, which also drive my day. Then I grab a cup of coffee and check on my work emails and messages. The early morning is when I am at my most productive and I take full advantage of that.
My working day begins the same way—consistency is key. I would say that consistency and, most importantly, follow-through, are my foremost work habits. So prioritising this time before I tackle the day’s challenges are non-negotiable.
My afternoons usually revolve around collaborative meetings, sharing ideas, and planning experiences. Arabian Gazelles seeks to connect with a growing network of influential women and exceptional brands through our shared passion for supercars and experiential and philanthropic ventures. it’s great to sit around a table and swap concepts. During these brainstorming sessions, I often find a good, old-fashioned pen and paper are the best tools for the job!
I may begin the day angelically, but I switch off at night with a little indulgence. I love a relaxing evening with friends over dinner or a good movie and takeout food.
Work and Career
I majored in marketing and went on to work in the fine jewellery industry, securing a geology degree in the process. This early career move helped me assess and anticipate the needs and preferences of a niche market for luxury products and services. It has, naturally, proved invaluable in the founding of Arabian Gazelles and my work within the supercar industry.
Frustration with the automotive landscape is what motivated me to launch the company. I was determined to change the gender narrative in the world of supercars. So, I set out to bring together a strong group of successful women who share the same passions for driving high performance vehicles. We have created a platform for women ready to drive the change in this male-dominated arena and the industry as a whole.
My definition of success is making an impact. And that’s what we’re striving for with our car club and our platform. The power of female buyers is making luxury carmakers sit up and take notice. Not only that, but we’re seeing women hired within the automotive industry; there are female-focused events and track days, and women behind the wheels of supercars in advertising campaigns. We at Arabian Gazelles have a voice and we are using it, fuelling and contributing to this change.
It’s undeniable that women have come a long way in the scuffle for gender equality, yet the fight isn’t over. Despite these advancements, the barrier isn’t broken—but it’s definitely becoming thinner.
Venture outside of your comfort zone. It is the single best piece of career advice I can offer.
Travel and Work-Life Balance
“When passion meets work, work becomes a hobby.” It’s a clichéd expression, but it’s very true, although maybe not in the way that most people think. When your passion becomes your business, you invest more hours, heart, and effort. Suddenly, your “hobby” is much harder than any 9-to-5! However, when you love the toil as I do, happiness, fulfillment and joy follow. And that makes it feel less like work because the payoff is so enjoyable.
I keep balanced by surrounding myself with like-minded people. Who you interact with has such a profound impact, so I try to reduce negative interactions in my life.
To de-stress, I drive. Or dive—it is my other great passion.
Sometimes, all I need is an open road and a full tank of fuel. Other times, I crave driving on scenic, twisty lanes that lead me to a track for a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss me laps. I do not have a preference on where or what I prefer to drive; it really depends on how I feel. Sometimes, just running errands in my Lamborghini at home is more than enough of a thrill. Other times, I can’t wait to fly somewhere new and embark on a riotous road trip.
Can you call travelling to beautiful locations to test-drive beautiful cars, work? I am fortunate to review amazing cars on the most picturesque roads around the world. I love to travel and of course, it’s never really working but simply a pure joy to drive.
My favourite city is always the next one! I am excited to try somewhere that I haven’t been to yet. I am always looking for new experiences and places to visit. When I travel for pleasure, I will generally try to go somewhere new.
My ideal DayAway would be a road trip with scuba diving along the way. Aside from my love of getting behind the wheel, I love to dive so combining my two passions would be my ideal day.
Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Maybe, it’s been waiting for you to be the first.
Giving back is one of the most rewarding things we can do in this life.
Living in your comfort zone is your enemy.