x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My UAE: the race car driver Khalid Al Mutawaa’s life in a high gear

A profile of UAE race car driver Khalid Al Mutawaa.

Khalid Al Mutawaa, who is a racing driver, instructor and team manager, pictured in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Khalid Al Mutawaa, who is a racing driver, instructor and team manager, pictured in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

Khalid Al Mutawaa is a seriously busy man. This 29-year-old Dubai resident holds down an extremely demanding day job as a quality assurance manager at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and, in his spare time, he’s a racing driver, instructor and team manager.

“My family originally came from an area close to Ras Al Khaimah,” he says, “near Musandam. And my father relocated the family to Dubai. He is a diplomat and I spent most of my youth travelling from country to country. Morocco, Syria, France – all over the place. Later on, however, I was awarded a scholarship with Emirates and studied aircraft engineering.”

Later, Al Mutawaa enrolled in a management training programme and quickly moved through the ranks. From there he moved to banking until 2010, when he says he was “headhunted by the GCAA”, where he’s now involved with implementing laws and legislation.

“I’m fortunate that the day job pays well,” he continues, “as it allows me to indulge in motorsport, which is my real passion. I manage a team [Skydive Dubai Falcons] and look after the development of three drivers, one of whom is my 21-year-old brother, Mohamad. I’ve been coaching him since he was 14 and he has now moved into rallying.”

Al Mutawaa is, he says, a member of a steering committee set up to increase awareness and interest in motorsport here. “I proposed to include it in the curriculum of studies at schools alongside football and that sort of thing,” he enthuses, “and there’s a possibility that karting might make it as part of that.”

He also works at Yas Marina Circuit and the Dubai Autodrome, where he’s an instructor and helps with the development of up-and-coming drivers. Has he had time to find a wife and have kids, though? “No. I’m single and ready to mingle,” he winks.

How do you keep fit?

I work out five times a week doing CrossFit training and on Saturdays I do something like wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding, beach volleyball or football.

What is your favourite type of music?

I enjoy deep house, old school hip-hop and R’n’B but I do listen to all types of music, depending on my mood.

What do you never leave the house without?

My phones, my wallet and my gym bag.

What is your favourite part of your home country?

I love the sea and the desert, too – I have a Jeep Wrangler that I take out whenever I can. It’s incredibly beautiful out there.

What car is your daily driver?

Audi R8 – I have other cars but this is the one I use every day. For me it is the perfect blend of luxury, comfort and performance. It isn’t the quickest car out there but I really love the way it handles.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I was given this advice by Sheikh Zayed – God bless his soul – when I was nine years old and sitting next to him. He said: “Son, always remember this now and when you grow up – always welcome your guest in your house, in your country and in your heart.” And you can see that this message has not only been said to me but to all the people living in the UAE, as they are always welcoming to everyone around you.

If you could have met someone from history, who would it be and why?

I would have wanted to meet someone from our prophet’s days, to see how they used to come to equality in many aspects, and see how the world developed from where it was to where we are now.

How can we increase interest in motorsport in the UAE?

A transfer of knowledge about motorsports to the public is essential and that has to start at a young age. My teammates and I have been aggressively marketing motorsport – after all, there’s more to it than F1 and we have some world-class facilities here. Our leaders are behind this and it will eventually become part of our culture – it’s an investment in our youth.

Who is your favourite actor?

For me, it’s the character or role of an actor that stands out. Steven Seagal, for instance, always plays roles where he has full control of the mind and body, and I believe that everyone in the world should have that balance.

khackett@thenational.ae

Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.