As I sit here reminiscing about my teenage years, I can’t help but be struck by how much my life has changed since that fateful day in 1988. Returning to Qatar for my final year of high school, I was young, reckless, and believed the world was my oyster. Little did I know, a single event would shape the person I would become.
My father had bought a new car a couple of years ago but wasn’t able to use it since we lived in Algeria where he remained, and although he initially hesitated, I managed to use my grandmother’s influence to convince him to give it to me. At the time, I was young and reckless, intoxicated by the thrill of speed and the adrenaline rush that came with pushing the limits.
I would often engage in dangerous acts of drifting, burning out tires and leaving a satisfying scent of burning rubber in my wake. I would also drive at dangerously high speeds of up to 260 km/h (162 mph), feeling an exhilarating sense of weightlessness and freedom. One fateful day, after completing my last high school exam, I took the car out for a drive. I was traveling at around 255 km/h when I heard a sound akin to air rushing through an open window. The noise persisted even after I checked the window buttons. Moments later, the back tire exploded, sending the car airborne, and crashing down several times.
As I lay in the wreckage of my car, bloodied and injured, I realized how close I had come to losing everything. I was fortunate to survive, but the road to recovery was long, and it forced me to confront my actions head-on. I was ashamed of the way I had taken my privileged life for granted, squandering the sacrifices my parents had made for me.
This period of self-reflection allowed me to make the decision to change. I dedicated myself to my studies, improved my grades, and volunteered at a local charity. Through hard work and determination, I learned the value of perseverance and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions.
However, life had more challenges in store for me. A couple of years later, I found myself in Paris, undergoing medical treatment for a serious condition. This was a difficult time, but my family’s love and support never wavered. The kindness and compassion I received from the medical staff and my family strengthened my resolve to overcome my obstacles.
While in Paris, I also embarked on a journey towards education, starting with a year of French Civilization at La Sorbonne, and attempting an engineering degree. Although I faced setbacks, such as being unable to complete the first year of the DEUG degree, these experiences only served to strengthen my resilience and determination to succeed.
In 1992, I returned to Doha and enrolled at Qatar University to continue my pursuit of an Electrical Engineering degree. The lessons I learned from my time in Paris fueled my passion for learning, and I went on to complete the 5-year program successfully.
As I reflect on my life’s journey, I am grateful for the adversity I have faced. These experiences have taught me invaluable lessons about the importance of resilience, determination, and living a life with purpose. I still love driving, but I now do so responsibly, always mindful of the impact my actions have on those around me.
The challenges I faced in Paris and the lessons I learned have played a significant role in the person I am today. Through adversity, we can find our true strength, and I am forever grateful for the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today.