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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Purple and powerful: the out-of-this-world car collection of Dubai social-media star Natalia Itani

Half-Italian, half-Lebanese tycoon and social-media star Natalia Itani juggles 200,000 Instagram followers with two firms, a stack of fast cars – and one special colour

When it comes to motoring preferences, some things are just in the blood. Being born in Italy is pretty much a default birthright in terms of a love of glamorous sports cars, which probably goes a long way towards explaining Natalia Itani's longstanding amore for all things fast and four-wheeled.

Raised in Beirut, the half-Italian, half-Lebanese businesswoman, who is currently based in Dubai, and her husband have owned a veritable garage of expensive metal that reads like a checklist of essential contemporary cars: a Ferrari 488 Spider, a McLaren 570S Spider, an Audi R8, a Lamborghini Aventador SV, a Porsche GT3 RS and – her favourite – a purple Lamborghini Huracan.

That last eye-catching model shows off her personal colour of choice – purple, she says, symobolises “royalty”, and her 224,000 followers on Instagram will have also seen the shade adorning some of her other cars, although the Huracan the most regularly featured. The non-standard tones are a clue to one of her two commercial concerns: luxury car-wrapping company Gulffoil, whose website landing page does indeed feature a purple Huracan; the other is high-end hire business Parklane Car Rental, which offers an array of supercars and everything from Range Rovers to Rolls-Royces.

“Foiling a car”, she says, lends it “a personal touch and a personal preference, but I’m more into modifying the engine and making it look unique with a specific body kit”.

“Ever since i was a teenager, I always had an eye for sports cars,” Itani, now 33, recalls. When she bought her first car, in 2006, it was suitably swift: a BMW M3.

It has also been 12 years since Gulffoil and Parklane began life, and Itani, who moved to Dubai that year to take a job in an investment company after graduating with a master's from the Lebanese American University, admits that her hectic lifestyle isn't all glamour. There have been some bumps in the road to navigate en route.

“We have been running them ourselves – [it's] basically a lot of effort, but mostly importantly [to] owning a business is being a great risk taker,” she says of Gulffoil and Parklane. “It’s not always profit, sometimes it’s also losses, and we have to bear the consequences.”

She juggles those twin enterprises with family commitments and, most visibly, her burgeoning social-media profile.

“I try to post daily, but I’m more focused on making money,” she explains. “I don’t think social media could work as a profession for me, [it's] more like fun. I have a family and I am a mother of two. Basically, [I'm] trying to balance everything.

Despite that casual description of her social-media status, however, she has become something of a celebrity, both in the Emirates and farther afield, thanks to her Instagram page.

“I always get recognised in malls and even when I travel,” she says. “I love my fans and I always give them time, and love to speak to them and know about them, too.”

Her love for Lambos, meanwhile, has lead her to become part of the Italian marque's recently established worldwide Female Advisory Board, alongside contemporaries such as Emirati car enthusiast Maha Mubarak Al Shamsi.

“I am beyond proud and honored being part of FAB, selected among many ladies,” she says. “I can’t wait to show you what FAB has in store.”

She is also an active member of Dubai's high-profile Supercars Majlis club, which holds regular meets across the UAE featuring dozens of multimillion-dirham motors that are almost always Instagram gold.

“I try to attend all their events,” she says. “They are fun and, most importantly, organised. With about 250 members overall and at least 80 members showing up with their super- and hypercars at every event, it can be quite hectic, but it’s always under control, being escorted by the police.

Such organised events give Itani the chance to show off her driving skills, which is an opportunity that she clearly relishes.

“Passion doesn’t have a gender,” she says of operating in a male-dominated sector. “The most challenges I get is when I’m mostly the only girl on the track [at events] and I find it funny, but it’s also challenging myself.”

Like almost every petrolhead, Itani has already planned her next petrol-powered purchases – a Lamborghini Huracan Performante, a McLaren 720S and the latest Mercedes-AMG G 63 are on her wishlist. It seems like her and her husband's aforementioned garage will require the construction of another wing rather soon – and it seems logical that at least one of those new buys will be resplendent in purple.

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Read more:

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The Arabian Gazelles: Meet the UAE's first women-only luxury and supercar club

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