GT Academy Middle East Features the First Female Finalist

January 21st, 2013 by Andrew Evans

Along with an expansion to new territories, GT Academy has expanded to a new gender as Faiza Al Kindi – known on GTPlanet as “Hollow” and pictured here with GT Academy judge Sabine Schmitz – became the first woman to qualify for a regional final.

Though women have always been eligible for the competitions, Faiza”s performance in the qualifier event for the Middle East Academy was the first time a woman has set a qualifying time good enough to be invited to a regional final.

Running alongside the Dubai 24 Hours, the Middle East regional final took a familiar format of Gran Turismo 5 challenges, media tests, fitness and real racing challenges in the Nissan 370Z sports car, to narrow the field down to eight finalists who were invited to a Silverstone Race Camp event. With the 2012 winners, Sabine, Lucas Ordoñez and UAE-born racing legend Mohammed bin Sulayem in attendance, the racers faced serious challenges before the eventual eight finalists were chosen. Faiza, from Abu Dhabi, was unfortunately not amongst the qualifiers, who are:

  • Abdullah Al Qaoud (Kuwait)
  • Al Sadiq Al Yousef (KSA)
  • Aseel Mohammed Nasr (KSA)
  • Haitham El Fakhouri (Lebanon)
  • Salman AL Khater (Qatar)
  • Sam Zian (UAE)
  • Steve Smuts (UAE)
  • Tarek Khedr Mostafa (Egypt)

These eight will make their way to Silverstone at the end of January to pick a single winner. That winner will find themselves on the same driver development program as the previous GTA winner, to obtain an International C Licence and a chance at a race seat for the Silverstone 24 Hours in September 2013.

Meanwhile a series following the European competition from 2012 has been given a TV schedule by leading UK broadcaster ITV. Starting at 8pm on February 4th, ITV4’s six episode “GT Academy 2012” focusses on the six UK & Republic of Ireland finalists as they attend the race camp for the 2012 event. Presented by Craig Doyle, the show follows Des, Thomas, Dan, Jack, David and István as they seek to follow Jann Mardenborough to represent the British Isles in world motorsport.

Images courtesy of Hollow.

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  1. Jan. 26, 3:37pm
    Mrs. Famine

    Yay women :D

  2. Jan. 25, 3:11pm

    Congratulations Hollow, have fun!

  3. Jan. 23, 7:53pm

    The online qualification in the middle east had a total of only 85 competitors from 4 countries. Very weak participation unfortunately.

  4. Jan. 23, 1:32pm

    How ironic…

    • Jan. 25, 12:54am

      Nooooooooooooooo. lol

      Congratulations, Hollow. Such a warm and awesome accomplishment.

  5. Jan. 23, 7:25am
    Borass 302

    :’) YEAAAAAAA !!!

  6. Jan. 23, 6:41am

    Sigh.. I really don’t like that we’re still at a point where someone needs to give special mention to someones gender.
    I’m really happy Hollow managed this feat but why should special mention be given to her gender? what matters is driving ability =/

    • Jan. 23, 9:28am

      I agree… fat/skinny – tall/short – male/female or pink with blue spots, it doesn’t matter. Once behind the wheel; we are all the same size and it boils down to one thing…TALENT! Well done to her and all who have capitalized on GT Academy.

    • Jan. 23, 11:47am

      Same here, what difference does it make. I actually find a lot of people who would consider this sexist, why didn’t we make such a big deal when a male managed it? O:

    • Jan. 23, 1:08pm

      The relevance is that both gaming and motorsports are relatively male dominated theatres – they’re not particularly weighted against skin colour, heights (though F1 drivers tend to be short) or builds (though higher level drivers tend to be athletic), games much less so. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that every single other participant in GT Academy national, regional and Race Camp finals to date has been male – and largely 19-25 too, to fit in with gaming stereotypes, with Bryan Heitkotter being the oldest actual winner by a long, long way.

      The fact someone female has set a qualifying time good enough to reach a final of any kind in the face of the weighting against her from gaming and particularly motorsports gaming is newsworthy. Not because she’s female but because she’s managed to be the first person to buck the stereotype.

      Her story should inspire others to buck stereotypes of their own too.

    • Jan. 23, 2:51pm

      ^ This. :tup:

    • Jan. 23, 8:01pm

      I’ve never heard of anybody “not trying” in motorsport or gaming for that matter just because of statistics and stereotypes..
      Back in my teens there were quite a few female racers that I drove with who were really quite good, but nobody treated them differently than anyone else on the field..

      I’d imagine the only reason this is the first instance of a female qualifier would be luck, nothing more. Although admittedly backed up by numbers of there being more male GT5 players than there are female, but I’ve never thought less or more of someones driving because of their bits as it were.

      Even just in the comments section – “Wow I got beaten by a girl?!” Really? is it really that surprising? I would bet Hollow put many, many hours into perfecting her driving and the thing that surprises people is her gender, not the effort she put in.
      That’s what irks me the most, the fact all other factors get overlooked in light of someones gender if it’s “not the norm”

    • Jan. 24, 2:49am

      Very well put Urie.

    • Jan. 24, 3:05am

      The reason she’s the first female qualifier is because she’s the first female in a male dominated pastime regarding a male dominated sport to set a time good enough to beat the males, not because she’s lucky.

      One of the things tested at GT Academy is determination. They’ll log how many press-ups you do, but also how many more you do after you’re clearly out of energy. They’ll log your bleep test level, but also how long you continue trying despite being out of it and can’t go on. It’s not just about talent, times and photogenicity, it’s about attitude too – and that even starts in the qualifier, when those who give up because they don’t see how the times are achievable (like me) don’t get through.

      Faiza has shown that gender doesn’t matter, because of the right attitude – just as several comments on this story has shown folk who have the wrong one. Hopefully more folk who might otherwise not make it are encouraged to put in a few percent more, whatever the odds against them are, so we can report on future GTPlanet members and GT Academy winners in the higher echelons of motorsport.

    • Jan. 24, 3:14am

      What…? I never said that it was luck that she got where she was.
      I said it was luck that she was the first female.
      I’m not going to continue this discussion because you overlooked what I said to just repeat the same thing =/ I said that gender doesn’t matter and then you tell me that gender doesn’t matter. -.-

    • Jan. 24, 3:49am

      Nor did anyone accuse anyone of not trying – yet you put that in quotation marks…

      Fact is Faiza is the first female to get this far in a GT Academy competition. It is something laudable that someone typically underrepresented in any field performs well enough to compete on equal footing – with no bias – to the typical makeup of that field. It is not fundamentally discriminatory to mention this, though it would be to suggest they only got there because of an effort to correct the representation statistics (which doesn’t exist here). It may be worth you noting the image credits – the subject of the article was consulted at length before the article was posted…

      Faiza’s story here should serve as inspiration to others who are underrepresented in anything that they can compete on a level playing field. Hopefully she will be back next year, if GTAME is run next year, and get through to the Silverstone final so we can report on that too.

    • Jan. 25, 12:58am

      “I said it was luck that she was the first female.”

      Say what now? Oh come on. Somehow, just somehow, you are missing the point.

    • Jan. 25, 1:07am

      “Hopefully more folk who might otherwise not make it are encouraged to put in a few percent more, whatever the odds against them are…”

      Ehhh-xactly. and obviously that statement applies to everything/everybody.

      Also, should no person receive recognition any longer for being the first to do something?

      “Same here, what difference does it make. I actually find a lot of people who would consider this sexist, why didn’t we make such a big deal when a male managed it? O:”

      What in the ****…

  7. Jan. 22, 9:26pm

    Girls are better race drivers any way…well done.xx

    • Jan. 22, 10:42pm

      T tu folle esti ^^

    • Jan. 23, 10:24am
      Super Novi

      This kind of comment is of an ignorant and generalizing kind, don’t you think? I am not saying that males are always better drivers than females or vice versa. It is purely based on talent, skill, effort, team work, passion, and persistance. Gender has absolutely nothing to do with it. Neither does race, religion or certain physical conditions.
      Seriously, think before you post.

    • Jan. 23, 1:00pm

      This might be sexist, but this a huge deal in its own way.
      Woman in the middle east in general are not taken seriously and while they can drive in most gulf countries some chose not and even seeing one driving and not getting harassed is a feet in itself.

    • Jan. 23, 2:31pm

      biftizmo has been guilty of not thinking before making a post for quite a while now…

    • Jan. 24, 3:49pm
      SZRT Ice

      bift’ simply comments to get a reaction out of people 50% of the time. Don’t stress him.

  8. Jan. 22, 3:30pm

    Go Faiza!

  9. Jan. 22, 1:21pm

    Opps! Damn word corrected me…I ment “Hollow” lol

  10. Jan. 22, 12:55pm

    Omg! Way to Go Hallow!
    I feel so proude of her :D

  11. Jan. 22, 11:33am

    Aww, my little “hollow” in the finals. Go Girl!

  12. Jan. 22, 10:34am

    This is far too awesome. Congratulations! Great job! I’m kind of proud to be part of a community with members as successful as her :)

  13. Jan. 22, 9:11am

    I’ve officially been beaten by a girl in GT. lol
    Best of luck to her.

  14. Jan. 22, 9:03am

    If only I had my driving license.. I really do hope that GTAcademy continues on in the Middle East.

    • Jan. 23, 7:26am
      Borass 302

      Yup. Same here. Its Husam btw :p

  15. Jan. 22, 8:43am

    Well done, Ms. Faiza Al Kindi! Best of luck!

  16. Jan. 22, 3:06am

    I still wish Canadians could join the fun. :(

    Regardless, congrats to Hollow for even making it that far. I’d be happy to be hanging out with Sabine Schmitz any day. Seriously seems quite fun.

    Now, I must ask if Hollow speaks German. :lol:

  17. Jan. 22, 2:28am

    Gran Turismo practicing exactly what it preaches, and showing its a game with no gender, race or status boundaries. Once youre in a race it doesnt matter who you are, or what you do, only one thing matters… you have to be fast.

  18. Jan. 22, 12:52am

    Damn Sabine’s gained some weight! lol

  19. Jan. 21, 11:45pm

    Have fun in the sausage fest.

    Seriously, you out drove a statistics filled of mostly males. Be proud.

  20. Jan. 21, 10:14pm

    Awesome news Faiza! Congrats! May God make you one of the best racers from the Middle East, Ameen!

    • Jan. 22, 2:29pm

      It might not be God who’s with her considering she’s from the UAE ;)

      Congratulations for getting so far.

    • Jan. 23, 1:02pm

      MeanELF, Allah is just Arabic for God…

    • Jan. 23, 7:24pm

      Funnily enough, I knew that – so why not say Allah?

    • Jan. 23, 7:44pm

      Why would God divert his attention away from starving & dieing people to help someone become better at Gran Turismo?

    • Jan. 25, 4:23am

      Anyway, she might not be a believer in either…

  21. Jan. 21, 9:22pm

    Damn hot :o!!

    • Jan. 23, 7:45pm

      I know right

  22. Jan. 21, 5:09pm

    Alright!!! Congrats Hollow on your qualification in the finals, I knew you had it in you! :D

  23. Jan. 21, 3:52pm

    Congrats!!! Its good to see a female love auto racing just as much as the fellas…

  24. Jan. 21, 3:11pm

    Wow she’s hot too!!! That’s great. I rarely run into girls on GT5, she must be really good to be in the competition. I’m rooting for her

  25. Jan. 21, 3:04pm

    Glad to see something positive about women and the Middle East. There’s a lot of misconception about that region of the World. Even though Faiza didn’t qualify for the final rounds, it’s ironic that from all the GT Academies held over the years — in the US, Europe, etc — that the first female is from the Middle East. I have a lot of respect for her for qualifying for the regional finals. And I always find it awesome when women are involved in motor sports.

  26. Jan. 21, 3:04pm

    And she’s really cute too!

  27. Jan. 21, 2:25pm

    Did anyone read the text?
    Faiza, from Abu Dhabi, was unfortunately not amongst the qualifiers…

    But still great to hear that there are females interested in GT5.

    • Jan. 21, 2:33pm
      SZRT Ice

      Yes, we know. She made it to the regional finals. Still a noteworthy accomplishment. We can read. Not many can say they’ve accomplished such a feat.

    • Jan. 21, 2:41pm
      SZRT Ice

      It is also worth noting that this is great exposure for her to open up more avenues in the race world, and inspiration for women world wide. I see this as a victory for women everywhere. Congratulations again.

    • Jan. 22, 2:31am

      indeed, all it takes is one person to show others they can do it too… Plus great to see Gran Turismo as a truly global game that crosses racial and cultural boundaries and now some positive exposure for female gamers…

  28. Jan. 21, 1:31pm

    I normally abstain myself on commenting on anything GT Academy related, but this was worth the comment.

    This goes to my female friends who criticize video gaming and “little car games” as they say. This will shut them up.


  29. Jan. 21, 1:18pm

    xD Nice one Faiza. Remember when we were talking about this? LEGEND!

  30. Jan. 21, 1:09pm

    Wow! Very unexpected!
    Well done Hollow :)

  31. Jan. 21, 12:39pm

    Congratz Faiza. :D Really happy to finally see a GT Academy female driver join in, you RULE, haha. I hope to speak with you soon. :)

  32. Jan. 21, 12:25pm
    Turtle Racing

    Faiza Al Kindi – (GTP) “Hollow” YOU GO GIRL!

  33. Jan. 21, 12:08pm

    I’m glad women make it into motorsport in anyway possible (Except the Danica Patrick “look at mah boobs!!!” way). Massive congratulations on the work achieved!!!

  34. Jan. 21, 11:44am

    Congrats Hollow

  35. Jan. 21, 11:14am
    SZRT Ice

    Respect. You achieved what I, and all these naysayers/trash talkers/haters could not. Much respect. Go far. Stay tenacious. Peace, & good luck.
    – Ice –

  36. Jan. 21, 11:03am

    All the best of luck to Hollow! Millions are supporting you and so are we! Good luck!

  37. Jan. 21, 10:13am
    Mac K

    Hey thats pretty awesome, congrats.

  38. Jan. 21, 10:03am

    Congrats Hollow. Knew that you were one of the best in the game period. A shame you couldn’t get to Silverstone.

  39. Jan. 21, 9:45am

    Congrats, Hollow!

  40. Jan. 21, 8:53am

    I think it would be great to see a female take gt academy this year. There are so few female race car drivers.

  41. Jan. 21, 8:33am

    I’m surprised it took this long to get a female finalist. I’m especially surprised it happened first in this part of the world.

  42. Jan. 21, 7:59am

    Is it just me or is Sabine Schmidt packing a few extra pounds there ?? lol

  43. Jan. 21, 7:47am

    Is she single? Hehe

  44. Jan. 21, 6:51am

    cool indeed! I have huge respect for these racing type girls! :))

  45. Jan. 21, 6:13am
    Alex p.

    Hollow (Faiza) we love you haha!

  46. Jan. 21, 5:54am

    GO GO GOO!!!

  47. Jan. 21, 5:21am

    Finaly some female drivers for gt academy.

  48. Jan. 21, 4:56am

    WAY TO GO Faiza Al Kindi “Hollow”. About bloody time we got a female driver up there. Come on ladies make you move..

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