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Palestine’s “Speed Sisters”

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RAMALLAH – With her bright orange pedicure, Michael Kors handbag and skinny jeans, Ms Maysoon Jayyusi hardly looks like a Palestinian speed racer.

But the minute she starts up her SUV, she’s weaving among bewildered locals in the crowded streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

She heads the Middle East’s first female speed racing team, dubbed the “Speed Sisters”.

The six women, Muslims and Christians in their 20s and 30s, have battled sceptical parents, the realities of the Israeli occupation and a sometimes disapproving public to become local stars.

Ms Jayyusi, 36, said her love for speed was born out of frustrating hours stuck in long lines at Israeli checkpoints.

After graduating with a business degree from Bir Zeit University, she saved up her salary to pay for lessons that she went for behind her parents’ back.

In 2010, her skills drew the attention of the head of the Palestinian Motor Sport and Motorcycle Federation, Mr Khaled Qaddoura.

He offered her the chance to join a training camp for drivers, sponsored by the British Council, along with several other women, all with different levels of experience – and the Speed Sisters were born.

Teammate Mona Ennab, 26, used to steal her sister’s car and drive it around without a licence – before she was old enough to take lessons.

Behind the wheel, she shows no fear, throwing her car around an obstacle course of cones in the parking lot of a West Bank abattoir – the best place available for the team to practise. Asia One