This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Arab Drifting, Saudi Drifting, or Middle East drifting, known in Arab countries as Tafheet (تفحيط), or Hajwalah (هجولة), is an illegal street racing–like phenomenon believed to have started in the late 1970s that involves trying to "drift" cars; to drive cars that are generally non-modified factory-setup rental cars at very high speeds, around 160–260 km/h (100–160 mph), across wide highways throwing the car left and right. In the process, racers often drive dangerously close to traffic, barriers, and spectators watching from the roadsides without any protection.
The technique does not involve recognised high-speed rally racing skills such as high-speed cornering using power slides. The skill involves sliding around on a wide flat straight road section at high speed, drifting sideways, and recovering with opposite lock, repeatedly. Tafheet practice and events occur with little or no concern for vehicle occupants, other drivers, or spectator safety. Many videos and compilations of the minor and horrific accidents that result are posted online.
Some of the more popular tafheet maneuvers include:
- Axeyat: turning the car 180 degrees from side to another completing a full 360 by starting from the right to the left or opposite, kind of street sweeping
- Harakat Almawt (Death movement or stir): a power slide where you have to keep the car going on forward in a straight line until the car stops by itself without fixing the steer or going off track
- Sefty: spinning the car a full 360 degrees starting from any side and then spinning the opposite side of the first 360 with a short power slide between
- Ta'geed: spinning the car a full 360 degrees while driving either straight or sideways more than once
- Tanteel: repeatedly creating a power slide and steering it back with opposite lock at high speed 160–260 km/h (100–160 mph), starting with 4 or more power slides and usually concluded with Ta'geed, Sefty, or Axeyat. It is also considered the main maneuver.
- Tatweef: passing another vehicle, truck, or more going sideways at very high speed up to 160 km/h (100 mph) on a public highway no matter how busy the traffic is
Lack of hobbies amongst youth in the country, and lack of interest in the arts by mainstream society, has been cited as the motivation for youths to participate in drifting exhibitions.
The cars are generally stock rental cars and are basic mid-size front wheel drive vehicles, minimizing personal cost and repair liability. While there have been instances involving high-end vehicles such as Ferraris and Nissan GT-Rs, these are relatively less common compared to joyriders stealing sedans or compact cars for the purpose of drifting, abandoning them after an event.
Often the police receive reports about high-speed drifting from concerned citizens demanding an arrest because of the risk to public safety. The drifters are rarely caught as the events are organised using an illegal spotter or spotters who use mobile phones to disband the vehicle activity before the police arrive on the scene. Although the police response is rapid, investigations often prove fruitless; generally, the spectators and drivers have left or are dispersing into regular traffic when the police arrive. Videos of tafheet events are often uploaded to the Internet to be seen by the spectators and drivers. Occasionally, police attempt to intercept the drivers but are chased away by both the drivers and spectators.
In March 2014, a 23-year-old Saudi nicknamed "The King of Nazeem Neighborhood" was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for a series of car drifting and firearms offenses in Riyadh and Al-Qassim Province. The drifter was also banned from driving for life.
To combat this, academies and leagues have since been established by professional racers in the region, in an effort to mitigate illegal street drifting incidents and to educate youths against the dangers of such activities, encouraging them instead to participate in officially sanctioned events.
- Salopek, Paul (27 September 2013). "Drifting". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- Meehan, Sumayyah (2008), "The 'Arab Drift'", Muslim Media Network, archived from the original on 2013-01-29, retrieved 2009-11-10
- Alammar, Ibraheem (3 November 2014). "The dangerous culture of drifting in Kingdom". Arab News. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- "Need for Speed? Indeed, say Arab film fans". Al Arabiya. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- Menoret, Pascal. "Fast and furious: Motors and mayhem in Saudi Arabia". The Economist. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- Al-Shabrawi, Adnan. "Car drifter gets 10 years, 1,000 lashes". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.