By on March 9, 2009

No doubt inspired by the endless supply of videos around the web of Saudi drivers tearing ass across the streets of the Kingdom, the NY Times recently sent a man to investigate. He found that between drag races and the “drifitng” shown in the video above, the Saudi streets come to resemble a cross between Death Race and The Fast and The Furious. It seems that a great national boredom, or “tufush,” has seized the young men of Saudi, and with no public entertainment and few jobs, an underground car culture has flourished. Wealthier and middle-class men drag race Corvettes and Imprezas all night, but for the poorer, more desperately in need of excitement, only drifting cars through and around traffic will do. And the scene has created one crazy melting pot of young, angry desperation.

“The idea behind drifting is, the economy and society don’t need you,” says Pascal Ménoret, an anthropologist with four years of field work in Riyadh. “They are mostly young Bedouins who recently moved to the city, and whose lives are marked by suffering and self-destructive behavior.” And according to the NYT,

Drifting, which tends to attract poorer, more marginal men, has also been an unlikely nexus between homosexuality, crime and jihadism since it emerged 30 years ago. Homoerotic desire is a constant theme in Saudi songs and poems about drifting, and accomplished drifters are said to have their pick of the prettiest boys among the spectators. Drugs sometimes also play a role. But a number of drifters have also become Islamic militants, including Youssef al-Ayyeri, the founder of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who fought in Afghanistan and was killed by security forces in Saudi Arabia in 2003.

Jihadism, homosexuality, drugs and getting fast cars sideways? So much for the west’s supposed monopoly on decadent nihilism. We’ve all seen the million-dollar playthings cruising the streets of Dubai, but the real car nuts of the Arab world put the oil sheik garage queens and the US “street scene” alike to shame. Not that we in any way endorse this behavior or hope to encounter oncoming sideways traffic anytime soon. But it sure makes for some entertaining Youtube.


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16 Comments on “Kingdom Of Drift...”

  • avatar

    I guess they always have dry road conditions?

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I saw videos about that one year ago.

    And fugly accidents too.

    I saw mostly Camrys, Accords and other WWD (wrong wheel drive) stuff.

    Dig deeper and you’ll find the stunts they do in SUV’s.

    Yawn. Meh, Blah.

  • avatar

    Drifting is absolutely one of the most inane and ridiculous fads I’ve ever come across.

  • avatar

    Propaganda? The NY Times doesn’t do propaganda.

    “not only are arabs terrorists and homos, they are bad drivers too”

  • avatar

    Poor people drift? I would think it wears out a lot of tires and tires are not cheap…especially if you are selling your ass or drugs to cover your rubber addiction.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I guess it makes sense.

    Its hard to get a good look at drift action while wearing a Burkah.

  • avatar

    I take a few liberties with history in a nutshell, but…

    When agricultural expansion and European primogeniture laws created a large surplus of young men with no prospects of inherited wealth or titles, what followed was an age of exploration and innovation, and eventually the settlement of the western hemisphere in the 16th to 18th centuries. (Okay, it also resulted in a couple of wars.)

    When petrodollar welfare and traditional Islamic laws create a large surplus of young men with no prospect of employment or marriage, the result is…reckless driving.

    Somehow I don’t think they’re gonna get far with that, historically speaking. I’m glad they’re only hurting themselves.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I’ve yet to see a story in the New York Times that involves automobiles, published in the non-automobile section of the paper, that obviously was edited by somebody who knows nothing about cars.

    From the story:
    “He proudly showed off the modifications he had made to his Subaru Impreza: a carbon fiber spoiler, an intake valve, a special ventilation system, a turbocharger.”

    I seriously doubt the car enthusiast took the cylinder head off the car to show the reporter the valve train.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth
  • avatar

    I didn’t realize there was a Jihad with common sense. But then again, the sand would probably drive me crazy also.

    I saw a few of these videos go wrong before with the crowd lined streets. They ended up fulfilling another favorite Saudi pastime… Bowling.

  • avatar

    The people shown in the video may be crazy, but most of them seem to have better car control than the Americans who “lost control” of their Ford Explorers when their Firestone tires exploded.

  • avatar

    Looks like Minnesota after a snow.

  • avatar

    Desert rednecks!

  • avatar

    Considering the sharia law sentence for public intoxication, adultery, and fornication is death, you would think there would be some serious penalties for this crap.

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