How frequently do you encounter a truck driver donning an abaya, the traditional Emirati attire? For Fouzia Zahour, this is an everyday occurrence: she ascends into a 22-wheeler, grips the steering wheel, and navigates all sharp turns and maneuvers with ease in her flats and abaya. Beyond being the stylish hijabi girl at the helm of a colossal vehicle, Fouzia holds the distinction of being the youngest woman to acquire a heavy vehicle license in the UAE.

"I experienced no preferential treatment during the licensing process," she confided to Khaleej Times. Remarkably, she aced the driving test on her first attempt. Originating from India, Fouzia is an only child, and her family has been her staunchest supporter, never questioning her capability to excel in a traditionally male-dominated role and stand tall among countless men.

She has long been accustomed to being the 'man of the house,' as her father passed away before her birth. She cared for her mother until her demise last Ramadan. "I toiled hard for my mother. I saw myself as her son, shouldering responsibilities and tackling tough challenges. When she passed, I was devastated, but then I realized I have a mission to fulfill—women's empowerment. I aim to demonstrate that even in trying circumstances, we can handle heavy tasks," revealed Fouzia, who pursued her education in India and earned a degree in commerce and business.

A typical day for her involves starting with obtaining her car license in 2013, and after a decade, she opted to secure a license for heavy vehicles. Fouzia underwent an eye test and a physical examination as part of the mandatory requirements, surprising nearly every official she encountered. "A woman at RAK Hospital remarked that in her career, it was the first instance of a woman coming in for the test," she recounted.

Shortly after obtaining her license, she secured employment at a private company in Fujairah. She rises early but operates without a fixed schedule, managing projects and overseeing the transportation of goods, primarily sand and stones. She has honed the skill of maneuvering double- and triple-axel trucks, with the longest journey she undertook being from Dubai's Jebel Ali to Al Qudra.

Despite relishing every aspect of her job, she is acutely aware of the immense responsibility that comes with piloting such a massive vehicle. "Driving a car is fundamentally different from commanding a truck. In a car, one can focus solely on the road. But in a truck, there's a heightened sense of responsibility to ensure safety for oneself and others around," she explained. This awareness drives Fouzia to take all necessary precautions before, during, and after her trips.

"Truck drivers must always remain vigilant and monitor the vehicle's condition," she emphasized, which includes checking critical elements like oil, water, leaks, and tire pressure. The condition of tires is paramount when operating trucks—especially in summer, when heat can lead to blowouts. In the event of tire damage, she must safely park the truck and reach out to the transportation department for aid.

"Some transportation services offer on-the-spot assistance. For instance, my truck is loaded, and I have a task to unload after specific kilometers. I must frequently check the tires, stopping every 4 to 5km to inspect them," Fouzia detailed to Khaleej Times.

During breaks, she creates videos and reels to share the delight she finds in her work. She views her social media followers as friends and has recently started her own YouTube channel. While many are astonished to see her驾驭 such enormous vehicles, there are also detractors who question her authenticity and suitability for the job.

"Some claim I'm seeking fame, but my recordings are brief and swiftly followed by driving," she clarified. Her objective is to inspire others and express her gratitude for the support she receives from various quarters. Recognizing the UAE's commitment to prioritizing, safeguarding, and empowering women, Fouzia is driven to excel in her endeavors.

By showcasing snippets of her life online, she aspires to motivate other women, particularly in the automotive sector. Fouzia aims to pioneer change, noting the scarcity of female instructors in driving schools and hoping to rectify that. Her ambition is to become the first female instructor for heavy vehicles, encourage other women to pursue driving lessons, and emerge as a leader in this domain.