Goin’ Hagwalah: Saudi Man Sentenced To Death By Beheading For Car “Drifting”

Saudi police have been dealing with a bizarre form of reckless driving called “Hagawalah” where men (women still are prohibited from driving in the Kingdom) skid their cars at high speeds as crowds cheer. Drifters often skid into opposing traffic or into awaiting crowds. One man identified only as “Mutannish” (or “he who ignores”) has been sentenced to be beheaded for killing two people while drifting.

The middle-aged man was convicted of negligent homicide, which is punishable like many offenses by death.

The alternative to death can make an appeal a close question. In 2005, Faisal Al-Otaibi, a Saudi naval officer, was found guilty of killing three people while drifting and was sentenced to death. That punishment was reduced to 3,000 lashes and 20 years in prison. I am not sure how one survives 3000 lashes but it cannot leave a lot of you by the end. Notably, the family was outraged by the decision of Judge Muhammad Amin Mirdad to spare his life for what is a case of reckless driving.

Notably, under Sharia law, the family is given the choice between accepting blood money (diyah) or insisting on the death penalty. The family refused diyah but the court refused to approve the death sentence.

Source: Fox

18 thoughts on “Goin’ Hagwalah: Saudi Man Sentenced To Death By Beheading For Car “Drifting””

  1. Can somebody tell me why judgment of blood for blood can not be giving to someone that got another person killed in Saudi?
    I am currently in this situation,my husband got killed by a Saudi through his reckless driving,i demanded for his blood in return but, the judge is saying that can not be giving…why? Is it because i am not a Saudi?

  2. Good description.
    I was looking to imitate the “shortest way through a curve”, not a zig plus zag sequence. I would say sudden wind shift or suddenly coming out of wind shadow is a factor at speed interval 3.

    Max 125 on the autobahn was more thatn dnough for me. Was looking at least 3/4 mile ahead, until Mercedes with top down and blond bomb driving blinked me to the right lane. She was a Stasi agent—this is a small exaggeration.

  3. Mike Wrote:
    This is a good reason why winning an all expenses paid vacation in Riyadh is no prize.
    Not to mention the one way ticket.

    Adam: A reckless driving incident becomes a Vehicular Assault or Vehicular Homicide felony if injury or death results.

    What is really bad about the practice of drifting is the people who do it tend to be young and less experienced. I know this seems obvious but there is more to it than most might imagine. Cars behave differently at high speeds and it requires a different type of method to control it. It’s been my experience that there are five ranges within the limits of most cars. 0-35, 36-50, 51-88, 89-120, and 121-155. I haven’t driven beyond 155 so I can’t comment on that.

    Most people only drive in the first three ranges. The difference between driving at 89-120 or 51-88 is greater than it is between all the other ranges slower combined as far as the skill required to be safer. It is the same for each range above. I would venture to say that 1 in 10,000 has the driving skill and experienced required to drive above 130.

    The reason these breakpoints are paramount to know is that the rules of physics have different manifestations at these ranges. If a driver was to turn the stearing wheel at range 4 at the same maximum degree and speed as range 1 an accident is all but certain. Lateral slope of the road (crowning) becomes a great factor at range 4, braking distance and fade are at 3, and strong wind shifts become problematic at 5. Also you must anticipate every other vehicle 1 mile ahead at a minimum at 5. At 5 a driver has at most a small fraction of the steering range before the car will go into a critical skid.

    Essentially in drifting the driver (depending on front / rear / or all wheel drive) begins an oscillating pattern of left / right steering that oversteers the maximum degree for the speed range. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle the driver accelerates to a critical speed, then rapidly oversteers the wheel while applying more gas. The vehicle will want to return to straight and once the traction overcomes the speed the vehicle will snap back to the other direction. Midway through this the driver will oversteer to the opposite side and increase the amplitude of the oscillation.

    This maneuveur if dangerous for inexperienced drivers in that the factors involved, oversteer, rapid return to straight, increasing speeds and oscillations, all are conditions that cause inexperienced drivers to lose control of their cars but they are required to cause a car to “drift.” The increasing oscillation and speed is the thrill but it catches up to being dangerous faster each time. At some point they over react and the car jumps beyond their expectations, which in turn elicits another panicked over steered, over reaction and it is all over at this stage. The car is then at its maximum kinetic energy and wild behavior and distance to stop will be beyond of the ability of the driver to control it.

    One thing that young drivers do not train themselves or are not trained on is the ability to get out of a bad situation. This is the critical part of why drivers fail at drifting. While they push their limit, even if more carefully, as to how far they can push a car at a given speed they do not train for what happens when the car goes out of control. You can slowly work a car up to a critical skid through increasing the oscillatoin but when it goes out of control INSTANT desicion making and reaction is the only thing other than luck that will save the driver. I can’t stress this enough. When a car goes out of control it takes absolute mental discipline to keep your mind in the frameset necessary to react accordingly. A driver must know instinctively how the particular car behaves in all factors, know all the surroundings and conditions, and the reaction MUST be automatic. There is simply not enough time otherwise. Clouded thinking just leads to more over reaction and crashes.

  4. I drove my alfa giulietta on an abandoned sport car track outside LA, only one there, doing mild drifts. Was I surprised when a cart passed me like I was standing still. All illusions demolished. Just as well, a little unseen sand layer would have put me on my top.
    The shoulders were not hard packed, which would have caused a roll if is side drift had left the track.

  5. It looks like a sporting event-where all people take their own risk. I see no crime committed.

  6. Ah, geeze, another method for young testosterone adrenalin driven you men to commit suicide. A bit of mistake in the airport drifting could result in a huge case for someone. Those airplanes are expensive.

  7. Just a note – there’s nothing inherent about “drifting” that it needs to be at all dangerous. A powerful rear-wheel drive car with the right tires (and lots of them) and you can have a lot of safe, if stinky fun. Here’s an amazing demonstration shot for the BBC’s Top Gear:


    It isn’t “drifting” that’s the problem – guys played chicken in the 50s killing themselves and onlookers in the process. They drag raced in inappropriate places since the invention of the car, again crashing into near by traffic and/or onlookers, and did similar stupid stuff with horses for thousands of years before that. It isn’t the style of driving or even the vehicle – we humans will find new and better ways to be stupid.

  8. This is a good reason why winning an all expenses paid vacation in Riyadh is no prize.

  9. Supporting what ADam said, check this video starting at about 1:20. Complete indifference, in fact the video revels in how close the driver comes to hitting full school buses by repeating the clip multiple times.

  10. Wait….the family refused the blood money and yet the court refused to impose the death penalty…… So, what now….

  11. I don’t support the death penalty in this case, but, I do believe it goes beyond just reckless driving. Doing such an activity, in my eyes, goes to such a degree of indifference to human life that it could support something along the lines of a second degree murder conviction.

  12. I wish I had the Michelin concession in Saudi Arabia in addition to my Saudi patent on pink and white checkered headcovering cloth.

  13. I have seen a number of these videos on YouTube including several accidents- cars plowing into spectators, other vehicles and running off the road into things. Was this not popularized in Japan? These folks have too much time on their hands.

  14. I don’t know who’s crazier – the guys doing the driving or the people watching so close to the action.

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