The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

Sisters are driving it for themselves

In an empty car park in Palestine, a young woman grips the steering wheel, curls cascading from beneath her helmet. Her name is Noor ‒ and she is a Speed Sister.


SCREECHING TYRES, burning rubber and raucous cheers. It could be young men drifting cars in downtown Los Angeles. Instead, in an empty car park in Palestine, a young woman grips the steering wheel, curls cascading from beneath her helmet. Her name is Noor ‒ and she is a Speed Sister.

A new documentary, still in production and desperately needing donations (see below), presents the story of the Middle East’s first all-female motor racing team. Called Speed Sisters: Racing in Palestine, it follows Betty, Marah, Mona, Maysoon and Noor; five women from the West Bank. They doughnut and drive, a feat in one of the world’s most turbulent regions, not least for five young Arab women.

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In 2009, Amber Fares, a Canadian-Lebanese filmmaker, was living in Jerusalem when the British Consulate approached her asking if she would make a video on the subject of female drivers in Palestine. The British Consulate had heard of a group of female racers and enlisted the help of two British racing drivers, Helen Elstrop and Sue Sanders, to instruct the team in an old BMW.

Over the course of two years, Fares followed the Speed Sisters as they competed in Palestine and Jordan both as a team and against each other. Today, the women compete in drifting and time trial events across the region organised by the Palestinian Motorsport and Motorcycle Federation. The events are held either on the roads, in a marketplace in Jenin or on a disused helipad in Bethlehem.

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Despite limited practice space and finances, the women have proved themselves on the circuits, frequently ranking above their male competitors. They’ve gained recognition and popularity within the Middle East and hope to extend their fame across the globe.

Fares hopes the film will take viewers on a wild ride and challenge any preconceptions of the lives of women in Palestine. She calls it a “classic sports story” as the characters battle the odds to rise to the top. Military occupation, societal conventions and a male-dominated sport have not dampened their determination as they continue to kick up dust around the circuits of Palestine.

The curly haired driver, Noor Daoud says: “When I enter this beautiful motorsport car with 600hp I feel like the happiest girl in the world”.

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The film is still in production and will be released next year.

Speed Sisters needs to raise a further $15,000 to support the film. There’s just time to donate to the project at https://donate.speedsisters.tv/race-to-the-finish