x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Too fast, too young, warns ben Sulayem

Parents spoil children with gifts of sports cars, says rally king.

Mohammed ben Sulayem, the president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and a former motor rally champion, said that a lack of parental responsibility played a major role in the dangerous driving habits of youth in the country.

"You cannot go and buy a sports car with 600 horsepower for a guy who's 18 or 20," he said. "It took me time to control a car. Any place in the world if you gave an 18 or 20-year-old a sports car, what would you expect? You've burned him, you already gave him a weapon, why don't you wait until he's mature?"

Recounting his favourite phrase, "youth is wasted on the young", Mr ben Sulayem said he wished he could pass along some of his wisdom to today's young drivers.

He said young drivers should be able to express themselves - but in an environment that does not endanger the safety of others.

"Youngsters have to understand that if you want to do this, we are not stopping you. We have the best facilities. Yas Marina Circuit is second to none and I always try to send the message that his highness Sheikh Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, made this not for Formula One, but for the community of the UAE."

Mr ben Sulayem said the problem was not down to Emiratis alone.

"UAE nationals form a small percentage of the population. Once you have over 200 nationalities, each with their own driving behaviour, a new breed of driving style takes shape. This is a big responsibility, it's not only a responsibility of the Government, but also a responsibility of the community."