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Zakaria Dashti and the Porsche Club Kuwait Festival

Zakaria Dashti stands in the paddock of the Kuwait Motor Track, overlooking the 500 cars gathered nearby for the Porsche Club Kuwait Festival. The sun is setting over the vast desert landscape. It is a quiet evening, punctuated only by the Porsche cars competing in the Kuwait Club members' championship. Paul Gregor from Porsche Global Community Management is at his side. This is the first time an official representative of Porsche AG has attended the annual Porsche Club Kuwait Festival. “An honor,” as Zakaria Dashti describes it. Around them, fans, visitors and members stroll between the amazing line-up of cars. From GT3s to Cayennes, from Cup cars to Carrera GTs – it’s impressive what can be found here, 4,000 kilometers away from Zuffenhausen, under the flag of pure Porsche passion and dedication.

Zakaria takes us on his journey from a model car-loving kid growing up in a Kuwaiti suburb to the current Club President and organizer of the largest automotive event in Kuwait – attracting more than 10,000 visitors over two days. "My love for Porsche started as a child with my uncle and his friends – gentlemen who drove Porsche in the 80s." One day, they left for a meeting, leaving the little boy alone at his father's house, with all their Porsches in the yard. "And they left me with the keys. It was me and the keys and all their Porsches! I spent the whole day exploring the cars and pretending to drive them! It was such an amazing experience. The spark that carried me through my whole adult life. I will never forget the moment I opened the door of that first Porsche, the unique smell, the leather that hits you. The scent of Porsche that goes straight to your head.”

Zakaria, a digital communications and media engineer with his own consultancy, first came into contact with the Club world during his studies in the UK. It was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed that he met the members and management of Porsche Club Great Britain. That was back in 2002. "I got to know the Club concept and the whole idea behind it, its amazing benefits for Porsche owners. So I immediately realized that we need to have this great concept in Kuwait.” Shortly after he sent an e-mail to Porsche and the response was positive: It’s time to have a Club in Kuwait, they said. Zakaria still remembers the Club's inauguration as the best moment of his entire Club life. "I saw members I knew from my childhood, from school and the neighborhood, even my uncle and his friends – so the cars I discovered as a child were actually coming to the Club. Porsche really does bring people together!”

Kuwait has a special relationship with Porsche. It was only the 9th international dealer for Porsche and the first in the region, so it has a special place in the heart of Kuwaitis and in their automotive history. The Porsche Centre Kuwait was established in 1957, but the first Porsche came to Kuwait early as in July 1954, so Porsche and the Club are celebrating 70 years in the country this year. Kuwaits dealer Behbehani Motors Company opened recently the Porsche Centre Shuwaikh. This prestigious facility, spanning over six floors with a total area of more than 35,450 square meters, represents a new pinnacle in Porsches Middle East market for its luxury and sophistication.

Kuwait’s roads are mostly flat with many straight highways and wide horizons; most Porsche owners, as Zakaria tells us, drive their Porsche everywhere and every day. But it took until 2018 for Kuwait to open a racetrack – the Kuwait Motor Town. Since its opening, Porsche has dominated the grid in all championships and events. The track has also brought new customers to Porsche and members to the Club, and increased its appeal to high-end GT fans.

As a fan of the big gatherings of motorsport enthusiasts such as Rennsport Reunion, Porsche Festival Italia and Silverstone Festival, Zakaria decided to contact Porsche Global Community Management and Porsche Middle East – to create a Porsche Festival in Kuwait. At the time, the planning of Porsche Icons was in full swing and Zakaria and his team supported Porsche in every way possible. Finally, in 2022, the first Kuwait Festival was launched, and it too became a great success. "Kuwait has never seen an event like this before. The festival is one big happy family of Porsche owners, Club members, enthusiasts, the general public, women, children, men, old, young, all nationalities and all ages and interests that come to see this celebration of passion for Porsche".

The festival quickly became the place in the Middle East to come together and meet: Clubs from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, and even South Africa and the USA are attending. Over 500 cars were on display this year, 250 cars in the Parade Lap, 61 cars in the Motorsport Championship, 250 on Festival Display of Supercar, Racing Car and Classic. The program included a Porsche Club Kuwait Motorsport Championship, extra Grand Parade Lap & Group Photo, a main stage program, an E-Sport Challenge, a VIP Lounge, Kid's Zone and a Food & Beverage area.

For Zakaria, Porsche is all about the community, the big family. "Meeting new people, exchanging experiences and knowledge, having fun, finding ways to work together at events and online, learning something new every day". He finds that Club life should always be moving forward, always being innovative, offering something new to the members. Just like the many women-only events they regularly organise throughout the seasons. Porsche events.Zakaria sees the Club as a great medium to best represent Kuwait to the international Porsche community and to best represent Porsche to the Arab automotive community.

“The Club is my life – it takes up my full time, I feel such a huge responsibility towards Kuwait, our 5,000 registered members, our Porsche Centre Kuwait, Porsche Middle East and the Porsche brand. To represent them, I try to give the absolute best in everything I and the Club do." One look at the festival is proof that Zakaria has done just that. Nothing else – nothing less. And sometimes, when he talks about the fascination for the brand, the passion and desire, the joy of living the Porsche life, you can see the little boy with the keys to happiness in his hands. Ready to experience the scent of Porsche. Not knowing that it will lead him through a successful and satisfying life as a member of the worldwide Porsche Club community.

Club President Zakaria Dashti (left) with Paul Gregor from Porsche Global Community Management (center) and Mr. Ali Morad Behbehani, President of Behbehani Motors Company and Porsche Centre Kuwait (right).