Tuesday March 21st, 2023
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The Abandoned Bus Turned Family Home by Rally Champion Yara Shalaby

Here’s how (and why) Egypt’s first female rally champion turned a bus into her solar-powered home in six months.

Karim Abdullatif

When it comes to RVs, Egyptians may associate these vehicles with hardship and upheaval - in no small part thanks to ‘Karakon fi el-Sharea’, a 1986 film starring Adel Emam and Youssra about a family that lost their house and had to build a motorhome. Yara Shalaby, an Egyptian software engineer and rally champion (as well as the first woman to race in Saudi Arabia), is set on changing that perception with ‘My House Bus’, an abandoned bus she turned into a family home.

An adrenaline-junkie by nature, Shalaby’s pastime is to climb mountains, parachute, and camp in the desert or by the beach - the latter of which led to her dream of owning a mobile home, which would allow her to remain in uncharted territories without worrying about provisions.

During lockdown, when rallies stopped and people had more time on their hands, Shalaby went for it, starting her search for a suitable bus online before having to trudge through markets on foot, where she finally found this 1996 model. Shalaby had to completely redesign it from the inside out, driving it to blacksmiths and woodworking workshops to cover its interior in wood.

The ceiling was cut and elevated to give more room, resulting in additional space for her son’s room. What was once the luggage compartment now hosts backup generators, air conditioning and plumbing. Meanwhile, a solar farm covers the roof, providing electricity to all the tiny homes' spaces, from the kitchen to the bathrooms, bedrooms, living space and dining zone, where she spends most of her time with her family.

It’s safe to say that Shalaby’s decision to move into her bus raised a few eyebrows, with many questioning her safety and sanity. But she’s a believer in the laws of attraction, ignoring the standard ‘What If?’s and powering through the roadblocks. In terms of security, the bus features steel doors at its access points, anti-shatter glass, cameras covering every corner, and sensors surrounding the bus from all directions. They pick up everything, even dogs.

Shalaby’s unconventional lifestyle is fueled by her desire to feel active and alive, and by pulling off ‘My House Bus’ (and perhaps experiencing the same kind of happy ending Emam got in ‘Karakon fi el-Sharea’), she hopes that it might encourage others to follow suit.


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