Dubai: Two marshals celebrate a decade of involvement at Dubai Autodrome

Dubai Autodrome general manager Richard Birch with marshals Abdul Azeez (left) and Shabbir Saifuddin (right)

Dubai Autodrome general manager Richard Birch with marshals Abdul Azeez (left) and Shabbir Saifuddin (right)

March 2015 – The first race weekend at Dubai Autodrome took place on 6-8 October 2004, and since then the venue has hosted 80 national and international race weekends – and the common denominator has been two marshals who attended the inaugural event and a decade later are still active at their posts.

Abdul Azeez and Shabbir Saifuddin have not missed a race in the past ten years, since they signed on as volunteer marshals when track racing began in the UAE and along the way have received specialised training in the field which puts them among the most seasoned marshals in the UAE.

Azeez explained his journey in motor racing, “I had an interest in motorsport and had friend who invited me to the Autodrome in 2004. It was great and decided I wanted to be part of motorsport through marshaling and since then I have had training, which has resulted in a great experience over the past ten years.”

As for highlights Azeez struggled to pinpoint one, and explained, “There have been many highlights as I have been at all the main races at Dubai Autodrome over the years and seeing some of the big names, being close to the action has been memorable – too many highlights to list.”

Asked if he would be around ten years from now, Azeez replied, “Hopefully, Insha Allah.” Saifuddin told his story, “Over ten years ago Dubai Autodrome concept was part of an exhibition in Dubai which I attended. There they asked for volunteers to be trained as marshals and I said yes. From that day onwards I have been here as part of the marshal team and honestly I have never looked back as I have had great experiences since then.”

“I have seen so many big races here with top drivers and top teams. I remember the first race event which was the LG Super Weekend where I was a marshal and since then have been part of the team at GP2 Series, FIA GT, A1GP, Dubai 24 Hours and of course UAE national racing,” said recollected Saifuddin.

And he is positive about the future of the sport, “I believe in years to come motorsport will grow in the UAE. Autodrome will be part of this and again we will see bigger races.”

As for being at his marshal post in future, Saifuddin was adamant, “God willing I will be here, I want to be a marshal for the next twenty years!”

Autodrome general manager Richard Birch, who presented Saifuddin and Azeez with a special Dubai Autodrome 10 Year anniversary book, commented, ” People like Abdul and Shabbir are the unsung heroes of our sport. The folks who give up their weekends to marshal because they are passionate about the sport and committed to providing the essential services that make a race weekend function.”

“Without them motorsport would simply not happen, and therefore it is with great pride that we at Dubai Autodrome can honour these marshals for their unwavering commitment, and believe that they are role models for many out here who want to be involved in racing through marshaling,” concluded Birch.

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