Saudi Arabia: The Culture of Drifting

Drifting in Saudi Arabia can be another word for “Insha’allah” (God willing) in action…at least in my point of view.  Drifting is when a driver puts himself and all of those around him at high risk of serious injury or death.  Yet, drifting is part of a cult culture in Saudi Arabia.  Young men and boys across the Kingdom feel they need to “pass the rites” of drifting in order to be “cool.”

Drifting refers to when a driver of a vehicle, whether 2, 3 or 4 wheeled, drives the vehicle at an angle zig-zagging across the street while only using half the tires and maintain control.  In other words, a young Saudi guy in his car may quickly accelerate while making sharp left and right turns of the wheel.  This in turn will allow the vehicle to rise up while moving on its side with only one front wheel and one rear wheel still on the ground.

The Saudi guys will drift in the center of any of Saudi’s cities or in the desert.  It does not matter to them if the area in which they decided to drift has other drivers in vehicles or pedestrians in the vicinity.

They drift for the sport, the adventure and for what they perceive as the prestige.  They believe that by drifting they are making themselves attractive and interesting to young women.

The young men seem to care little about the vehicles in which they drift.  Some of these vehicles are quite expensive such as new Hummers or SUV’s.  Not all of the vehicles are owned by the young men either.  They may be the father’s vehicle or the car used by the family driver.  But to the young men, it is simply a toy which allows them to perform their reckless “sport.”

The World Health Organization found Saudi Arabia to lead the WORLD with the highest number of road accident deaths.  Road accident deaths are the primary cause of death among Saudi males aged 16 – 36.

According to Silvio Saadi, a Jeddah-based businessman, speaking to Media Line, “Saudis often try to drift with normal cars and thousands of spectators on the sides of the street,” he said, referring to an informal motor sport in which drivers intentionally over-steer so as to lose traction and drift on the road. “Sometimes the car drifts into the spectators, slamming them into buildings along the sidewalk.”

This video illustrates exactly what I am talking about…



21 Responses

  1. Again I’m going to sound negative again …and seriously hope any Saudi woman with some brains and common sense would never support this type of risky behaviour:

    This type of seriously dangerous behaviour when it’s their car or someone else’s reflects a person who has had no serious responsiblities in life work hard, earn money to buy their own toys and to treat their women on an equal basis…by risking their life…for absolutely no reason.

    Sounds like some rich bored boys (not men) who never were held accountable for their actions. Worse yet, they are endangering other drivers, pedestrians and building occupants around them.

  2. They did this in Qatar as well. Kuwait cracked down on it, but it still happened there as well.
    Once, my wife and I left the compound to go out for dinner, watching one clown in a landbruiser drifting around the roundabout for our compound.
    I slipped through, avoiding the idiot and we went to dinner.
    We arrived home to find the vehicle recently wrecked, the driver and companion running from the scene.
    Said vehicle had one wheel on the ground, under the drivers seat, the body sat on a concrete barrier, nothing at all under both passenger side tires, over a 2 meter deep excavation.
    The men poured out of the Madrasah on the corner to see what the noise was as I arrived.
    Some were taking pictures before the police arrived (do it while the police are present, lose your camera/phone).
    I noticed sand pouring from under the single tire that was on the ground and the instability of the vehicle and remarked, “God must REALLY love them!”
    A Sudanese gentleman from the school looked over and laughed, saying, “I could not have said it any better, my friend! The shame is, tomorrow, their father will buy them another car.”

    Just another example of how youthful men do their utmost to kill themselves. I may have had my moments in my youth, but not as insane as that!

  3. Jean, I remember driving to work in Delaware County, PA some years ago, to have someone blow past me doing well over 100MPH. He was weaving through traffic like a shuttle on a loom, I also clearly recall hearing a woman screaming coming from that car as it passed me.
    This happened a few times over the week. My wife had it happen to her as well, same black car.
    The following week, said car caused a major accident that killed several people, but escaped. Briefly, as traffic cameras had captured the license. He’s still in prison.
    Pity he didn’t kill himself instead of causing the accident that killed 3 and injured 6.
    So, it’s not ONLY Saudi. Just too little supervision, a fatalistic view of life (get killed, “God willed it”. Something that was fairly common in the US a couple of generations ago) and easily replaced vehicles, bought by the indulgent father.

    I WILL say, my wife REFUSED to drive in Kuwait or Qatar. They drove like it was the 1950’s-1960’s, aka a demolition derby. One has to learn how to drive where the high speed collision has occurred, as they’ll not be there by the time your vehicle gets there, avoid them and get tangled with them.

  4. As a Saudi who used to have a few classmates drifting when I was in high school, I would say those who drift do so to get other boys attention. Yes, the majority of those who drift look for other boys and try to attract them. Moreover, as many shows I’ve watched in Saudi that talk about drifting say, the majority of those who drift are drugs addicted and children molester. They usually either steal or rent the car they use in drifting. My neighbor’s car was once stolen, a few days later the police told him the guy who stole it had an accident while he was drifting !

  5. With respect, Khalid, I seriously suspect either a family member or family friend “borrowing that which was “found” in the desert”. Or some concept very similar in youthful exuberance and idiocy.

    THAT said, the drifters “stories” sound more like implants by the religious police to discourage the activity, thereby lowering fatalities.
    I’m familiar with other stories that don’t involve drifting, only the inaccessibility of females, the natural urges of the youthful male growing into adulthood and some rather unfortunate events (such as two males, erm, meeting in a normally private area of the minaret of the mosque for some, erm, private time, then getting caught as the elder went to call to prayer.
    And a few other stories, to include some disparaging stories of the Qatari and Saudis.
    I take ALL such stories, not with a GRAIN of salt, but with a large chunk of rock salt, but the trend is revealing.
    The honesty was quite welcome, as one SHOULD bare shameful secrets to one’s closest, as that of family.
    THAT was when my wife and I “adopted” our Saudi friend, indeed, younger brother to me, as we BOTH view said person.
    His father reciprocated upon his first visit after we befriended and guided him with he and his wife’s first born child, then greeting the second child.
    Indeed, he named myself and my wife as “godparents” to his children. Something I made light of, both in jest and to suggest an alternative, as THIS Deist would then have to raise his children, were the worst come to pass, in Islam.
    His honest reply, “I know that YOU both would”.
    I’ll not follow the faith or respect some teachings, but, I would, as I gave my word of honor to teach his children under his faith and with all of the fields of human knowledge.
    We BOTH respect the fundamental human right to accept that which is foreign to us in ideas, when it causes no harm to others, but indeed, DISCUSS the differences in thoughts with ANY who disagree.
    I only offer lessons, in rather obscure ways, hoping one would consider the view, then try to reject it by reason, rather than culture or faith. THEN, intelligent consideration of the viewpoint can be considered, from ALL points of view.
    At the end, one can agree, one can disagree or one can agree to disagree. At least we TALKED and LEARNED from each other, rather than commit to violence after discussion of polarizing nature set things into stone.
    I’m a rather good father, per my own grown children, with families of their own. MY goal at home was one of peace, as in peace and quiet. Figure out your differences, if you fail, come to one or both of us. Failing that, figure it out between yourselves, THE HOME IS PEACE AND QUIET!
    There were a few failings and fisticuffs. The punishment for said objectionable behavior guided them toward more civilized decisions.
    If families can do that, human societies can as well.
    OR, satan was right and humans are not worthy of survival or note, per Islam and ancient Jewish texts. Or in secular reality.
    Am I perfect? Absolutely! I’m a perfect 10 on the Richter scale. Let ANY human say otherwise brand themselves a liar. We ALL have failings, how one is judged overall in LIFE is how one adapts to learning of one’s failings and failures of “proper” nature.
    One learns from mistakes and failures of value systems as obeyed in life.
    Or one does not.
    But then, each individual has a purpose. Not ALL can be a good example, a sparse few can be provided as an excellent example of a BAD example.
    If one accepts that one isn’t exclusively that latter example, one can GROW.

  6. I have heard a lot about kids in Saudi driving like this…thankfully in Oman such instances are rare

  7. Wzrd1, on May 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm said: But, I agree with Wendy, the topic isn’t the various sects of the faith, but of weddings. Let’s try not to permit the thread to devolve into things that would be better discussed in other blog entries.

    Your pontification (quoted above) is from another thread. Read what you wrote carefully and then read below what I write.

    In the current thread, you used a total of 629 words. Out of those, 51 words or ONLY 8% were related to the topic of “culture of drifting” (first 2 paragraphs). The other 578 words or 92% were in way, form or fashion had anything to do with “drifting”. Adopting a saudi/qattari family, playing godparents, human rights, religion, etc etc etc and the rant goes on and on and on into infinity …. nothing whatever to do with thread topic.

    You are a hypocrite through and through. Next time, you get on your high horse and soapbox to pontificate to others, practice what you preach first!

    @Re: Culture of Drifting

    Perhaps, saudis should take up sandboarding, which is a much more safer sport. To those who are not familiar with it, sandboarding is a boardsport similar to snowboarding. It is a recreational activity that takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-covered mountains.

    This boardsport has its adherents throughout the world, most prevalently in desert areas or coastal areas with beach dunes. It involves riding across or down a dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board, though some sandboarders use a board without bindings.

    It is really a fun sport. During the high school/college years, we used to go to Sand Dunes National Recreation Area in coastal oregon on weekends. It was buckets of fun in a unique setting!

  8. THANK YOU ROSEMARY..finally wzrd1 got told for his hypocrisy.
    Also the long drawn out comments always seem so dramatised and far from the truth…not sure if u make up these stories as you go along but it certainly seems like it.

  9. Sand boarding and sand skiing are both a lot of fun! The dunes in Saudi are ideal for these sports.

    In spite of attempts, NASCAR is rejected in Saudi. I think it would be an excellent alternative to drifting as well as a stimulus to the economy.

  10. It is so dangerous man ! It is great risk for life,Saudi Arab government should take action against such events.

  11. That’s what happens when there is a lot of money and nothing to do. Boys frustrated by segregation and a big lack of organized sports and other healthy activities. A lot of blame has to be put on the fathers who will buy hot cars new after each wreck so the spoiled little brats can continue to terrorize others and destroy themselves. Pity!

  12. carol, just curious. what are the reasons for “rejecting” nascar and sand boarding and sand skiing sports, in the kingdom? thx much.

  13. @Louise, this earlier post (particularly comments) might help explain:

    In my own opinion, I think a lot of young Saudis find Nascar, sand boarding and sand skiing to be too boring with not enough risk. ):

  14. I have viewed a large number of youtubes on reckless driving on the part of Saudi men/boys. I think it is time to start arresting these individuals and fining them heavily. Maybe the Wall of SHAME – Post their pictures for all to see with family names.


    Ditto. 🙂

  15. Rosemary,you actually took the time to check out thr number of words he used?now THAT is pathetic!

    These irresponsible boys are probably attributed to their father’s over indulgence to their every whim. My husband’s cousin used to be one of these boys.after he destroyed his Mercedes,the following week his father replaced it with a brand new GMC. I told my husband,if tht was my son, i’ll smack some sense into him with the bill. And tell him to get a job! Ah,another huge contributer to thhis drifting culture is the high unemployment percentage.evil is the result of idle.

  16. Mrs. B:

    It is also because the parents don’t require them to work or be in some form of activity such as football, baseball, etc.

    Over indulgent parents.

    I agree with you on that they need to be rudely awakened to consequences.

    I know it is amazing I can actually agree with you on something. 🙂

  17. Its not strange to find commonalities with other people,Bstick. And i much prefer this kind of conversation with u or anyone.

  18. Mrs B:

    I was humor. I have been accused of being terrible at it. 🙂

  19. It is important to understand that saudi men- especially teens and in their 20’s- have really nothing to do.

    The pressure is very high in those age groups- remember until recently they could not even go to a mall unaccompanied!- making most of them having to ask for the maid of the family to string along so the security guard could let them in.

    Of course driffting is not an excuse, but it is an expression of their circumstances- available money and nothing offered to them to do.

    Moreover what have heard is that these ‘ drifting spots’ or ‘ competition sites’ attract a lot of gays. The straight men almost compete to show who is the best drifter and then they are more likely to be admired by the opposite sex.

    Just a note, I have no problem with gays, but unfortunately in this case most of them are straight people with no outlet.

  20. […] Saudi Arabia: The Culture of Drifting […]

  21. These drifting idiots ( can’t find a kinder term) need to be made to view what happens to other drifting idiots who are not so lucky to come out of this intact. they should also be made aware of how many innocent non-drifters they kill – all because of boredom!!!!!!!! they are bored, they drift, they kill a few people people , all in a days’s work…..

    What a waste of human life. not that they are idiot teens here , just that they don’t use their cars as a deadly weapon for the most part.

    We’ve reached the point where there is not 1 holday where my husband doesn’t get paged in to work. some idiot drunk/not acting like a moron and causinghimself and others bodily harm. luckily i only get paged when they mangle their most imprtant parts !!!! and i have no sympathy at all – just a weary detachment….sigh.

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