Dubai’s street racing scene

Time Out takes a look at Dubai's street racing scene as well as desert drifting, as showcased in the new Emirati movie Hajwala

In the land of bigger, faster, better, it comes as no surprise that the practice of car drifting is so popular in Dubai.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, drifting is a driving technique that sees the person at the wheel intentionally oversteering while cruising at high speeds, causing the loss of traction on the rear wheels or all of them.

To a newcomer, it looks like the vehicle is swerving and spinning out of control when in fact it isn’t, or at least that’s what the drifters would have us believe.

Drifting is a move which is often incorporated into drag or street racing, a sport of sorts that’s acquired cult status among many young people in the Middle East and UAE alike, known as either Hajwala or Tafheet in Arabic.

In case you’re wondering, it is dangerous and it is illegal (on public roads), but that doesn’t seem to have affected its popularity in Dubai and elsewhere across the Gulf.

The following short documentary by Vice showcases the sometimes lethal consequences this social phenomenon is having on neighbouring Saudi Arabia:

Which brings us to a brand-new movie set to be released in cinemas across the UAE this weekend – Hajwala.

Filmmakers Ali Bin Matar and Ibrahim Bin Mohammad tell the story of two young Emiratis who are so passionate about drift racing that they’re involved in a series of events that change their lives forever.

“While it is predominantly about cars, it’s also about how this dangerous lifestyle affects their lives and their relationships with friends and family,” Bin Matar told Gulf News.

From a cinemagoer’s perspective, Hajwala offers a rare insight into Emirati life, from a local’s perspective.

“This phenomenon has been around for decades and everyone knows someone who is into it,” Bin Matar adds.

“Yes, we’ve had Fast and the Furious come and film here, but no one has done a film about our street racing before.”

The directing duo hired real drifters to perform all the amazing stunts.

Hajwala will be screened at Novo, CineRoyal, Reel, Star Cinemas, CinemaCity, Al Mariah Abu Dhabi and VOX and will feature English subtitles.

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