From Gaza to Silverstone


Anything is possible as Palestine students build race car from scratch

ENGINEERING students from the Gaza Strip have built a single seat racing car to compete in the Formula Student event at Silverstone next month, despite the five-year blockade on the territory.

The Israeli blockade has meant that the students, from the UN-run Khan Younis Training College (KYTC) in Gaza, have had to use almost entirely recycled parts to build the car, using water pipes for the chassis and an engine salvaged from an old motorbike.

The KYTC team will enter the car in next month’s Formula Student competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and held every year at Silverstone. The competition is the largest student motorsport event in the world, challenging students from across the globe to design, build and finally race a single seat racing car in one year. The team still need to raise $40,000 to pay for the trip to Silverstone.

Nineteen year old Osama Al Othmani, the KYTC Team Leader, said: “We are challenging all the pressures here, and the blockade. We want to prove to the world that even if we are living on nothing, we can still create something from it.

“The last thing we will do is to stick on the label. It will say ‘Made in Gaza’.”

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, added: “It really is inspirational to see a team working so hard with the odds stacked against them like this. Formula Student is a massive challenge in its own right, but to be working with almost entirely recycled parts in one of the most deprived areas in the world is remarkable.

“These students epitomise the spirit and inventiveness of those who take part in Formula Student.”

While most of the other teams at this year’s Formula Student will attract big name sponsors and recruiters from Formula 1, economic prospects for young engineers without the opportunity to leave Gaza are bleak. KYTC’s budding engineers, many of whom are living on less than £2 a day, will be lucky to become garage mechanics, earning a maximum of £200 a month.

Still the team are working around the clock to make sure the car is ready for Formula Student. The car passed its first test drive on the streets of Gaza recently.

Dr Ghassan Abu Orf, the team’s supervisor, said: “They have taken no rest – we don’t have that much time. We have to stick to the deadline, and have to be in the UK on time for the competition.”

Osama Al Othmani said: “I just can’t wait for the minute when we finish.”


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