Nahyan praises Emirati lady winner of FIA award
The UAE’s record for producing top international motor sport officials has been underlined by the news that Emirati Heba Abbas Bahaj has been named as the best marshal of the season for 2013 by the FIA, the sport’s governing body.
It is the third year in a row that the prestigious best marshal award has been won by a UAE-based volunteer, and the second in succession that a UAE national has been recognised.
The achievement was acclaimed by Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, when he received Heba along with Mohammed bin Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.
He told her: “You are a credit to your country, and to UAE motor sport. The ATCUAE has done an excellent job in recruiting and training volunteers and it is very satisfying to see our marshals and officials receiving the highest recognition.”
Sulayem added: “Heba is a valuable member of the growing team of UAE national volunteers who make a vital contribution to the overall marshalling of motor sport in the country.”
“She typifies the spirit shown by our hard-working team of marshals. The team is made up of many nationalities, but they all work in harmony throughout the year to keep our events running safely and efficiently.”
For the past five years, Heba has carried out marshalling duties at the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and other events at Yas Marina Circuit. At the start of the 2012-13 season she was promoted to senior marshal at the start-finish line, and since then has worked in that position on the majority of events, including the last two F1 Grand Prix.
“This is a great honour, and one I share with all my colleagues and friends in the UAE motor sport marshals’ community,” said Heba, the first Emirati woman to receive the FIA honour.
Heba was one of seven individuals worldwide who were recognised by the FIA Volunteers and Officials Commission in the 2013 FIA Officials Awards.
“Her involvement is very much appreciated in the world of motor sport, and her efficiency and reliability were highlighted by the Awards Committee,” said the commission’s President, Joaquín Verdegay de la Vega.
Emirati Mohammed Al Shatri was named as best marshal of the year for 2012, while the previous year the award went to Alan Rooke, head of the ATCUAE’s F1 Grand Prix recovery team.