, Beirut, Lebanon, May 19 – Lebanon is hosting its first ever women-only classic car rally, with female drivers flying in from across the world for the occasion.
The 28 drivers in the two-day Rallye des Graces event include women from France, the United Kingdom, China and Algeria.
They set off Saturday from the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon, a seaside club in Kislik, north of Beirut, and are to tour the country, as far east as the Bekaa plain along the border with Syria.
Organiser Chahrazad Rizk told AFP she wanted to bring the event to Lebanon after taking part in similar rallies in Switzerland.
“The idea is to organise a women’s rally each time in a different Middle Eastern country,” said Isabelle Labrousse, a driver who made her first visit to Lebanon for the occasion.
After leaving Kislik, the cars parked briefly under searing sun at the ancient port of Byblos.
“I’m very happy to participate in this event, it’s magical,” said Rima Lucas, a Lebanese driver at the wheel of an old red Porsche.
Laurence Boule, on her first visit to Lebanon, said she was happy at “the prospect of spending a day in these beautiful old cars… with all these women from around the world”.
But she said Lebanon’s rugged terrain and the lack of road signs had complicated matters.
“Our first kilometre went very well until we got lost,” she said. “But we only found charming Lebanese people to redirect us”.