Policewomen in glitzy Dubai are literally zooming in style on the front lines of law enforcement, driving some of the world’s priciest and fastest sports cars to go after the bad guys.
In a male-dominated world, female officers driving a Ferrari are a sight to behold.
And tourists can’t help but notice.
Lt Mariam Al Ka’abi, a member of an all-female squad who drives the Ferrari in the police white-and-green livery, said: “The message is that people can approach us as the car becomes a conversation piece. But we’re here to really help in law enforcement.”
That’s not all. The fleet of sporty patrol vehicles also includes a Lamborghini, a limited-edition Bentley, top-of-the-line Mercedes and a rare Aston Martin.
Dubai is believed to be the first city in the Gulf to assign female officers to patrol duties.
The super patrol cars were a brainchild of Dubai police chief General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Mariam said.
“He figured by patrolling in such cars we’re sending a message to tourists and residents that Dubai truly is a luxurious city,” she said.
When the idea came about, the force first brought in the Lamborghini in early April and assigned two policemen to it.
Then late last month the police brought in a Ferrari and assigned it to Lt Mariam and colleague Badria Al Swuidi.
“People stare at us for two reasons – one, the car we’re driving is a Ferrari, and the other is it’s being driven by two female police officers,” said Mariam.
Her new assignment proved a revelation. “In my conversations with people on the streets since I started on this assignment, I discovered that a majority did not know the force had women on call.”
“I can understand people’s surprise as this is the first time women are going on patrol duty in Dubai,” said Mariam.
The biggest challenge for Mariam and Badria is explaining why they drive luxury cars.
“People approach us with that question more times than I can count,” said Mariam. “I guess being women doubles their curiosity. It’s part of our job description.”
The vehicles are fitted with police gear found in other patrol cars, though she clearly stated: “We are not meant to chase criminals.”
“Police visibility is important in any city. Our job is to patrol tourist attractions. On some occasions, we ask a driver to move out of the way if they’re blocking the road. But we didn’t fine anyone,” she said, though she declined to say whether issuing traffic fines is part of their job.
“I hear the other team (in the Lamborghini) did,” said Mariam.
Badria, a 10-year veteran of the force previously assigned as a criminal investigator, said they are assigned the car full time.
“We can be pulled from our patrol duty and sent back to our original duties if something urgent comes up,” said Badria.
Asked whether the policewomen get to drive the other super cars, Brig Pilot Anas Al Matroushi, one of the high-ranking policemen behind the initiative, said those vehicles have not been assigned to anyone yet. “There is no reason to assume the women on the force cannot drive them. We do not discriminate between genders,” he said.
As it stands, both policewomen are eager to get their hands on the other cars. “Once we were chosen for the Ferrari we were trained before driving it about town. The same process will be observed when we’re assigned to the other cars,” said Badria.