Roy Nouhra’s love for racing started early. He was 16 when he got his first car, and when he first got into trouble. His father had indulged him, buying him a sports car. And as 16-year-olds do when handed a ‘toy’ that can go fast, Nouhra burnt a few roads (and a few laws) to go with it.
“I loved the feeling of going fast. But I needed to do it in a controlled environment. So…I started going to the race track.” But race tracks are expensive, especially for a 16-year-old. He did the next best thing and got himself a job as a race track trainer. “This was the worst part. I hated being a passenger in a fast car. But it was the only way.”
Eventually, the 16-year-old grew up, and moved to Dubai in 1997, where he took his love for all things fast, and his background in engineering to expand the family’s manufacturing business to build high-performance inflatable boats—ASIS Boats. “When I joined my father’s business, I wanted to make race cars. But it is a hard market to break. So we decided to go for the next best thing.” ASIS Boats, now into its tenth year, sells its products to over 80 governmental entities across the world. But not even fast boats beat the satisfaction Nouhra gets from fast cars. “When you are racing, you are in the moment…you are in the right now. It’s like a form of meditation.”
Heading the family business which employs over 1,100 people is no easy feat and keeps his schedule full. But, Nouhra tries to race at least once a month either at Dubai Autodrome or the Formula One track on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Despite the short period of the activity, the impact lingers for days. “After I leave the race track…everything is so slow. It takes me a week to adapt to the pace of everyone else. It kind of pushes everyone around me to be faster at work.” Nouhra feels, though, that he could and should do it more often.
“The Dubai life is a fast-track life and entrepreneurs need to strike a balance between business, family, the community, and the “me” and that’s what I try to do by racing.