Marah Zahalka was only 12 years old when she took her parents’ new car for a joy ride around their West Bank neighborhood Jenin. Her parents thought the car had been stolen, only to look down their street and find Marah, barely big enough to see over the wheel, driving.
“She was drifting through the neighborhood,” says Marah’s father, Khaled. “I asked her, ‘How dare you take the car? Who taught you to drive?’”
Marah’s mother, Aarab, was working as a driving instructor and Marah had been watching her closely and learning. Kahled had long had a love of cars. Rather than punishing Marah, her parents encouraged her passion for driving. At 15 she learned of the local street racing scene and became determined to participate. One week after turning 17 and getting her license she drove in her first race.
“The gas pedal makes me feel free,” Marah says. “It makes me feel powerful.”