Walaa Zoheir graduated from the Faculty of Arts of Ain Shams University. She later started working in a communications company, secretly holding on to a dream that then seemed unattainable. Walaa’s dream was to go for a ride on a motorcycle, now, she is the founder of سوقي Scooter Academy, an initiative that teaches people all over Egypt how to ride scooters and motorcycles. We sat down with her to know all about it.
Ever since Walaa was a child, she loved bikes
“It was always a far off dream of mine to ride a motorcycle, even if just once to try it out,” she said.
In 2014, just before she got married, she and her friends decided to learn and her dream turned into owning a bike of her own. However, when she got married and had two children, the prospects of buying a bike were slim, her husband wasn’t happy with the idea.
That never stopped Walaa though. When the coronavirus hit and she was off work, the idea of the academy began to take form for her.
“I loved scooters and I wanted to teach girls who loved them how to ride too. I started a Facebook page and got to know a lot of bikers and types of scooters. This got me in touch with centers that sell and maintain scooters. Now, I have a spot among them. My work and reputation speak for me,” she said.
سوقي Scooter academy currently has a lot of male and female instructors who teach in different governorates.
Of course, Walaa’s Journey was not without challenges…
It’s safe to say that the biking community is a male-dominated field. “People barely give women credit for properly driving a car, how do you think they’d react to a woman teaching?” she told us.
“I had to carve my way into the field and I had to prove myself.”
It was also a big challenge for Walaa Zoheir to set a curriculum she could follow and execute with everyone, men and women alike. “Good driving has nothing to do with gender. There are men with average driving skills just as there are women. I had to go a long way to prove myself to clients and gain their trust. Now, they specifically come and ask to be taught by me,” she said.
When Walaa first opened the academy, she got mostly negative reactions from the people around her
“Some people were worried I would get hurt or harassed. Others believed it was “3eib” for a woman to ride a bike like men. My mom was worried I would have an accident. My siblings thought it was a crazy idea and my husband was worried about me because of the road and the microbuses who would corner me,” she said
“Eventually though, I managed to convince him when I pointed out that riding a bicycle for women was safer than taking public transportation.”
“It’s even better than driving a car because of the traffic and the lack of parking,” she continued.
Walaa’s husband currently has his own motorcycle and teaches by her side at the academy. So far, the academy has had 200 – 250 female and 60 – 70 male students.
To balance between her work at سوقي Scooter Academy and her job at the communications company, she teaches a scooter class before and after her working hours at the company.
“I wake up very early to manage everything and also pick up my children from nursery. Although it can be exhausting at times, it’s worth it, I have the best of all worlds!” she concluded.