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.