August 15, 2019
Zahra Bakkali’s mantra has always been ‘Keep moving. Never gonna stop!’, and that is just how she lives every day of her life — never stopping.
That life has changed so much since she moved to London as a newlywed in 1998, from a small village outside Marrakech, Morocco. As the first in her family to visit Europe (and the first to drive a car for that matter!), Zahra didn’t speak any English when she arrived in the UK, neither could she read nor write in her native Arabic.
As children, Zahra and her two elder sisters were kept from attending school by their devoted mother, a widow, for fear of losing them to life’s temptations. But Zahra never let that stop her. Now fluent in English, she loves driving for a living and she loves using the Bolt app to find new customers even more.
At around 5 a.m. on most mornings, Zahra ferries passengers across London, often to and from its busy mainline train stations, such as Paddington, King’s Cross and Victoria. She enjoys the interest her Bolt customers show in who she is and what she does, and she is proud that many connect with her later on social media. Some have even become lasting friends.
On weekdays, Zahra takes a break from driving at around 3 p.m. to collect her children from school, cook dinner and keep up with the never-ending housework, before hitting the road again for a few hours in the evening. For a married mother of five, including twins, there’s not much time to take a breather. “No problem”, says Zahra — she’s learned to stay strong regardless.
Like any mother, Zahra lives for her children. Once a week, she does the morning school run with one of her sons, giving them some precious one-on-one time. On the dashboard of her fully electric Mitsubishi Outlander sits a small teddy bear, a Mother’s Day gift from her daughter three years ago.
Despite her busy schedule, Zahra always finds time to look after her appearance and her car. Both are immaculate! The car is scented with oud, an exotic luxury fragrance popular in the Middle East. Aside from work, Zahra loves to cook— a skill she learned from her mother. Moroccan cuisine is a favourite. Her couscous, in particular, is a hit with friends and family but is generally reserved for Fridays, in keeping with the traditional Moroccan customs. Other specialities include tagine (stew), harira (soup) and a number of Moroccan breads. Nothing is off the menu, however, as Zahra can and will cook literally anything!
Private hire driving was supposed to be a temporary thing— just a year, two at most. Three years later and Zahra enjoys it so much that she doesn’t want to quit. No matter how much there is going on in life, she says, “Keep moving. Never gonna stop!”.