Dubai's Debut 'Gentleman's Drive' Joins 61 Vintage Cars to Promote Men's Health Awareness in the UAE
As part of the campaign, motorists and riders unite to adopt a 'smart' attire policy, commemorating traditional fashion, to promote understanding about the disregarded concerns regarding men's welfare.
Exclusive photographs by Priscilla Selhorst (www.priscillapx.com)
Published: Thu 28 Sep 2023, 11:59 PM
Men do not shed tears. For countless generations, individuals have grown up with a distorted belief of manliness and what it signifies to 'Be a man'. Depictions of males in popular culture have merely exacerbated the misconstrued understanding of gender roles in society, resulting in fewer discussions revolving around men's well-being and health. Consequently, men frequently find themselves in a situation where they are hesitant to seek assistance and are more reluctant to consult healthcare professionals for regular examinations or early intervention.
In recent times, endeavors have been made to dismantle these barriers and advocate for open dialogue concerning men's health, including initiatives like 'Movember' that have proven effective in raising awareness about men's health issues, particularly prostate cancer and mental well-being. Another endeavor that fosters change is The Distinguished Gentleman's Drive (DGD), which originated as a branch of The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride initiated by Mark Hawwa in Sydney, Australia, in 2011.
As part of the DGD campaign, drivers and passengers gather together to adopt an elegant attire policy, celebrating traditional style that corresponds with the timeless grace of their classic cars manufactured prior to 1980. Since its first drive in 2021, more than 6,000 drivers have participated in over 200 unique drive events spanning 66 countries worldwide. This collective endeavor has not only generated substantial awareness but also raised nearly $400,000 (USD) for the Movember movement, playing a pivotal role in supporting essential programs and funding life-saving research.
For the first time in 2023, Dubai joined the lineup of countries participating in the Prestigious Gentleman's Drive. In a conversation with Khaleej Times, host Frad Tabarrok and co-hosts Ewan Cairns and Simon King, the organizers for PGD Dubai, take us through the journey of establishing The Prestigious Gentleman's Drive and the impact it has had on men's well-being in the city. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Organizers Frad Tabarrok, Atiq Hassan Mubarak, Simon King, and Ewan Cairns (from left to right) for The Prestigious Gentleman's Drive in Dubai
Take us through the genesis story of The Prestigious Gentleman's Drive...
First came the motorcycles. The Prestigious Gentleman's Ride was founded in 2011 and was inspired by a photo of TV show Mad Men's Don Draper on a classic motorcycle wearing his finest suit. Mark decided a themed ride would be a great way of connecting specialized motorcycle enthusiasts and communities, while raising funds to support the men in our lives. The Prestigious Gentleman's Drive is an extension of that. The primary objective is to raise awareness about the often-overlooked concerns surrounding men's well-being, with a particular emphasis on prostate cancer and mental health issues.
Secondly, in countries where local regulations permit, funds are raised by Prestigious Gentlefolk participating in the events to support the Movember movement (www.movember.com). These funds are subsequently invested in vital research and programs for prostate cancer and men's mental health issues to promote the welfare of men all around the world. The focus is to assist men in leading happier and healthier lives.
The procession began at the popular CARS Café in the Dubai Autodrome and ended at the Flat 12 Cafe in Port Rashid, Dubai.
Concerns with men's mental health have also come to the forefront in recent years. In what ways does the initiative raise awareness about it?
In addition to spreading awareness on prostate cancer, which is the second most diagnosed cancer in men, mental health is also a primary area of focus for PGD. Globally, on average, we lose one man to suicide every minute of every day.
That’s 500,000 individuals each year. The matter of self-destruction is extremely intricate, there is no solitary cause why males commit suicide. However, we are aware that by enhancing general psychological well-being, we can diminish the likelihood of suicide.
Addressing untreated mental health conditions and assisting men in establishing improved social connections are a few of the areas of focus. A large number of men are struggling in isolation. The conventional barriers and social disapproval associated with seeking aid for your mental well-being remain robust. Together, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive and Movember are dismantling these barriers; however, they require assistance in this battle.
The inaugural drive occurred in Dubai on September 24. How did the event come together?
This was the first-ever Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive in Dubai, although it will not be the final one! With only a three-week timeframe, it was a demanding schedule for us to successfully organize this event. Ultimately, 61 cars registered for the drive — all of which fulfilled the requirement of being from the era before the 1980s. In accordance with the original idea of 'dress dapper,' drivers and passengers donned vintage attire with some truly impressive outcomes. Many flat caps, waistcoats, and bow ties could be observed, along with flower power ensembles reminiscent of the 1960s that matched the vehicles.
Taking the form of a procession, the breathtaking cars were escorted by the equally impressive, albeit more contemporary, Dubai Police Supercar Division — supported by volunteers from the Emirates Motorsport Organisation. Participants gathered and socialized at both ends of the drive, and the event not only brought together a delightful collection of cars but also united many like-minded individuals who shared a passion for both men's health and classic vehicles, creating a marvelous community event.
How has the initiative resonated with the residents of the UAE?
Specifically in Dubai, this initial event had a significant impact on the organizers. The support has been astounding, not only from the participants but also from local authorities such as the Emirates Motorsports Organisation and the Dubai Police. We have no doubt that next year the event will be grander and better, and we eagerly anticipate the continued support of the people and authorities of Dubai in making the world a better and safer place.
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