“Proudest moment. I’ll be [flying] to the UAE for the [Formula Woman] Nations Cup in March,” said Pia-Maria El Boueri last week on her Instagram page. The 25-year-old driver from Jounieh in Kesrouan will be taking part in the competition “as the first and only Lebanese female to represent Lebanon and the Arab world,” she added.
“It’s crazy to realize that I’m the first Lebanese woman to do so, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to represent Lebanon in such a big event,” she told L’Orient-Le Jour. “I’m also very proud to represent Arab women in the very masculine world of motor sport. It is incredible to be able to push back these limits,” she added.
This pride is all the more evident given that the driver began training less than two years ago. “I hadn’t had the opportunity to train before because I was living in Lebanon. I’d just done karting with friends! It was when I arrived in the UK that I had my first training sessions,” she said. The sport in which Boueri competes is more or less non-existent in Lebanon.
Boueri left Lebanon for the UK in 2020 to complete her master’s degree in law. While there, she discovered Formula Woman, a team that works to enable women to discover and progress in motor sports. Although she started out as “one of the least experienced,” she trained hard every week. “I spent long days at the circuits and did intensive five-day training sessions, from morning to night, in different cars: BMWs, Jaguars and Ginettas.”
Boueri has now completed her degree and works as a legal assistant in the UK, and continues to train as intensively as ever, which “means I have to take days off [from work],” she said.
‘To best represent Lebanon’
She inherited this passion from her father, “a big Formula 1 fan” who never missed a race. “I’m not even sure I was old enough to understand what I was watching, but I remember that we wouldn’t go out on Sundays — it was F1 day!”
Today, her goal is “to represent Lebanon as well as possible at this major event,” which she sees as “an immense responsibility.” It’s an opportunity for her to “break down the stereotypes that an Arab woman couldn’t do it.” Through the Nations Cup, she also intends to show that “every little girl can make her dream come true.”
Scheduled to take place from March 8 to March 10, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, the race will be held on the iconic Yas Marina circuit. Boueri will seek to win a title over some 50 drivers from 26 different countries, all aiming for “International Glory.”
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle El Khoury.