x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A shall-er's advice: Keep it legal, keep it safe

Shying away from the negative image that shall-ing has among the motoring public,the stunter once seen on YouTube advises youngsters to practice at places where the environment is controlled.

AL AIN // Ahmed Saif al Shebly, 26, climbs behind the wheel of his Toyota 4x4 and turns up the music.

He has already inflated his tyres to 60psi - almost double their normal pressure. With the differential lock on, he starts driving in circles, increasing his speed.

Within seconds, the driver's side of his truck begins to lift off the ground.

Now, with a tap of the accelerator, Mr al Shebly is up on two wheels.

Next he slows to a crawl as he manipulates the clutch and accelerator to stop his truck from ending on its side.

"I've put a truck on its side before," he says. "But that's how you learn. Once that happened it reduced my fear a bit. A minor paint job fixed the damage and I kept on practising.

"Most essential for me was to have a friend riding with me who would cheer me on, pushing me to go higher and higher. It is pretty scary."

Mr al Shebly was once seen going down Sheikh Zayed Road on two wheels. The stunt, filmed and uploaded on YouTube, earned him some jail time, a fine and the impounding of his vehicle. He is not proud of it.

"I don't recommend anyone does what I did on a public street," he says. "We were all in a celebratory mood and we acted irresponsibly. The consequences were great: I dealt with them and have put the incident behind me."

Shying away from the negative image that shall-ing has among the general motoring public, he advises youngsters to practise at places where the environment is controlled, such as at the Dubai Autodrome, which did not exist when he was 18.

"Eight years ago, there weren't any places to practise like there are today," he says. "My friends and I would find a place far away from people and the police, but I don't recommend anyone does that nowadays, especially with places existing such as the Dubai Autodrome."

Past aside, he has become one of the UAE's top shall-ers, competing in yesterday's Red Bull competition, pitting the UAE's best against one another in a controlled environment.

"I am very excited to be able to take part in this event," Mr al Shebly says. "It's strange to be doing this right in front of the police and to not have to worry about getting arrested."

A traffic police officer overseeing the competition, who asked not to be named as he was not an official spokesman for the police, said at least one person is caught shall-ing in Al Ain every week.

"The consequences for shall-ing on public streets are great," he says. "It's not something we take lightly. Those we catch we arrest and refer to the prosecutor's office.

"They spend an average of 30 days in jail and their vehicle is impounded for three months or simply seized. They also face a licence suspension for a period of time to be determined by the prosecutor."

ealghalib@thenational.ae