If you’re from Palestine, you may have heard of her. Otherwise, let me tell you about Betty Saadeh, a 30 year old female race car driver in the West Bank. Saadeh is of Palestinian descent, but was born in Mexico, where her father took up the unique hobby of race car driving. Her brother also became a racer, and it was from these two male influences that Saadeh was inspired to take up the sport as she got older.
Growing up, Saadeh lived in Mexico, the United States, and Chile. It was not until high school, however, that she would come to live in Palestine. She grew to love her homeland, but she left once more to attend university in Chile. Finally, just a few years ago, she returned to Palestine and began to fulfill her dream of becoming a racer.
Upon her return, Betty saw that there were some women racers competing in the country. Saadeh had always loved racing from watching her father and brother but it was not until she saw other women racers in Palestine that she felt she could really take part in the sport.
During her very first race, Saadeh took 1st place. Currently, she is 10 out of 54 racers, and 1st out of the girls. When asked what it is like to compete against men in the races, Saadeh responded that,
“At first, some of the guys did not like the fact that they had to compete against women, but now it seems that most of them accept us and want us there. They saw we are the ‘pepper to the salt’”.
Saadeh continues “Palestinian woman are very much involved in politics, business, and sports, not like the world thinks. I felt like I could be a racer here”.
Saadeh wants to show the world that Palestinians also like to have fun and that they have hobbies such as race car driving among many others; their lives are not simply defined by what we hear in the media.
So far, Palestinian racers have only been able to compete in the West Bank and Jordan, but Saadeh hopes to be able to compete internationally one day. Palestinians will soon have more room to perfect their driving skills and compete, because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has allotted them space in Jericho for their racing, which will be available for use next year.