My Dubai Car: Canadian expat on her Toyota Sequoia

Discover the dream rides of UAE residents

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 6:34 PM

Name: Hala Aluraibi

Ride: 2016 Toyota Sequoia

Nationality: Canadian

Profession: Director of Operations & Strategy

In Dubai since: 1999

When did you move to the UAE and what do you like most about this country?

I moved from Toronto, Canada to the UAE in 1999 and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I met my husband, and we got married here. My daughter was born here, went to school here and despite giving her the choice to attend university anywhere in the world, she chooses to be here.

What captivates me about the UAE is its seamless blend of tradition and modernity. It's akin to driving a classic car fitted with the latest GPS technology. Dubai is so much more than just its magnificent cloud-scraping skyline, it is a city that has built a rich tapestry where every corner has a story. Just like a multi-faceted jewel, there is something here for everyone. It is hard not to fall in love with this country.

What do you do for work?

When I embarked on my UAE journey, I first delved into the tech realm as a software consultant at a prominent consulting company in Abu Dhabi. As a female in a predominantly male-dominated sector, I found myself navigating uncharted territory, as an outlier ready to embrace the challenge.

My professional trajectory in the UAE has been as diverse as the culture of this vibrant nation. I’ve worked in the fast-paced world of Food and Beverage, the strategic landscape of Consulting, the fun world of Family Entertainment, and even been involved in the realm of Fitness and Wellness.

Currently, I proudly hold the position of director of operations & strategy in a consulting firm, working alongside an incredible team. This role is more than just a title; it's an opportunity to amalgamate my diverse experiences and continuously drive growth.

What kind of car-related activities do you enjoy?

My Toyota Sequoia is not just a means of transportation; it's a companion on the journey of exploration. From the undulating dunes to the picturesque coastal roads, I relish the freedom of cruising through the diverse terrains that the Emirates has to offer. The spacious interiors of my car become a cocoon of comfort as I navigate through the scenic beauty of this enchanting country. Whether it's a spontaneous road trip to Ras Al Khaimah or a leisurely drive along the Jumeirah, it's during these drives that I’m able to explore the cultural aspects of each emirate and discover hidden gems in the process.

What made you purchase your vehicle?

Honestly, I would have never imagined choosing the Sequoia. I am not an avid off-road enthusiast, and neither do I have a big family (we are a family of 3). But after weeks of visiting showrooms, sitting in countless cars, and going on one test drive after another, when I finally sat in the Sequoia in the Toyota Showroom in Festival City it was like finding the perfect partner —it just felt right.

The first drive I took after receiving my car was to Liwa in the western region, to show my father my new car. As soon as he saw it, he smiled and said “Your first car was a two door, then you moved to a sedan, and now this. What will your next ride be, a plane?”

What do you like most about your car and what could be improved?

I love everything about my car. I love it so much, he has a name, Dean. Despite its size, it is very easy to drive and the V8 engine is incredibly powerful. Whenever my friends and I decide to go somewhere, everyone wants to be in my car because it's both, comfortable and spacious. It’s like a living room on wheels. It has hauled laughing children going on a road trip, excited friends heading to the desert, and furniture being moved for friends and family.

My only disappointment is that the Sequoia has been discontinued in the UAE, despite newer versions of it being available elsewhere.

What does your car mean to you?

I know many people suffer from buyer’s remorse after purchasing a car, but I have never regretted buying this vehicle. There are countless cars that are more expensive than mine, but to me, my Sequoia is simply the best because of how I feel when I drive it. Whenever I take it to the dealership for service, the advisors are always amused by how much I insist that they take care of my “handsome boy”.

If money were no object what car or SUV would you have in your garage? Where would you like to drive it?

Honestly, I never thought of myself as a car enthusiast. But now that I am unapologetically a Toyota Sequoia super fan, I would probably buy the 2024 edition from overseas.

Given the opportunity, I would love to take my father on a long trip across Canada and the States. He has always enjoyed cross-country drives, and I can’t imagine a more comfortable and safer vehicle to enjoy such a journey. But let’s be clear, Dean isn’t going anywhere, he will simply have a new friend.

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