My Dubai Car: Emirati supercar owner reveals what she'd like to change about her Ferrari

The way it hugs the road the faster you go, the horsepower, the styling… all of it combined makes the 488 Pista an exciting car to drive

By George Kuruvilla

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Photos by Shihab
Photos by Shihab

Published: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 8:56 PM

Name: Ghada Sawalmah

Ride: 2020 Ferrari 488 Pista

Nationality: Emirati

Profession: CEO, Gargash Hospital

The UAE is a land of opportunity that has welcomed all and has provided a platform for people to prove their talents. With the grand flux in social and economic activity over the decades, the country has nurtured the growth of its citizens and expats to help drive their dreams at the workplace. The financial success of the residents has also helped turn this Arab nation into a playground for supercars.

Ghada Sawalmah, a daughter of this nation, is our first Emirati to be featured in this segment. She occupies the CEO’s chair at Gargash Hospital and is part of the wheels of change that inspire the women and men of her generation — and the next — to achieve greater heights. Here are her words on her car, the spectacular Ferrari 488 Pista, and her beloved country:

What do you like most about Dubai and the UAE?

Dubai is my home. The UAE is such a diverse and multicultural country. As a national, I get to interact with communities from various regions and backgrounds, right at home. This gives me the unique and amazing opportunity to experience tolerance and multiculturism and allows me to grow, both personally and professionally.

Furthermore, the opportunities that this city and country continue to offer me as an Emirati are limitless. There never was a situation where I felt held back, socially or otherwise. Becoming the youngest Emirati female CEO in the healthcare industry was also seen in a positive light and it can be regarded as one of the many moments that cement the UAE’s stance on female empowerment. Also, this is a country that strives to provide high levels of security and high standards of living for all.

What do you do for work and how do you spend your days?

I am the CEO of Gargash Hospital. My routine involves being on the frontlines of the medical industry 24 hours a day and no two days are the same! After my workday, I prioritise spending time with my family. When the weather allows, we are always engaged in outdoor activities such as mountain biking or jet skiing. My latest passion is padel tennis.

With such long and stimulating days I like having a moment to myself reading books, especially romantic comedies like Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay. It helps my mind to settle down. On the weekends, although it doesn’t match my gym routine, I love to explore the wide culinary spectrum available in the UAE from fine dining to traditional “sit on the floor” establishments. At the moment, I’m exploring Uzbek cuisine. Also, I enjoy going to art galleries and fashion events, and of course, whenever there’s a drive, I’m there.

What kind of car-related activities do you enjoy?

As a member of the Arabian Gazelles, the exclusive club for women supercar owners, any event organised by it is my priority, especially if it is a long drive between cities in the UAE or a track day, be it with our cars or other special cars. I also enjoy visiting drag racing days at the Dubai Autodrome whenever they occur. My latest interest is learning about and keeping myself updated on the Tilal Swaihan hill climbs.

What led you to choose your vehicle?

A car must speak to you. It’s an extension of you. Each car holds a special place in my collection or my memory. The Ferrari 488 Pista is in my opinion a masterpiece and possibly, one of the last petrol-engine vehicles manufactured by Ferrari. It is great as a road car but also designed for track use, which is why I chose it. The drive is an exhilarating experience from the time I start the engine.

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

My Ferrari gives me an altogether different surge of excitement when driving it. I can feel the engineering magnificence when I’m inside the cabin. And when I’m driving, I feel connected to the road, which is an indication of the many manhours gone into crafting such a beautiful work of art. The way it hugs the road the faster you go, the horsepower, the styling… all of it combined makes it an exciting car to drive. If I could change anything in the Pista, it would be to make it even louder!

What does your car mean to you?

When you take your time in selecting a car, its details, specs, etc., it is a form of creative expression. Having the privilege to have more than one car makes me feel like I get to express a part of my character.

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

Definitely a Koenigsegg! I haven’t had the opportunity to drive one so far, but would love to do so someday. Location… the Autobahn, Germany, no speed limits!

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