Female car repair shop owner blazes a trail in UAE

·2 min read
Huda al-Matrooshi, an Emirati woman who owns and runs a car repair garage in Sharjah

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.

(Reporting by Abdelhadi Ramahi; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Susan Fenton)