When Bahraini university professor Sajida Saeed Tabbara first got on her motorbike in 2008, some said she was a bad role model for girls.

"It was very difficult for me as a woman, particularly as a Bahraini women, it was tough because people passed a lot of judgements," she said, standing next to her red Softail Deluxe Harley Davidson.

"But the most wonderful thing was that my kids, my own students, stood up for me and said 'how dare you say something like this about her!'" said the retired linguistics professor, who was dressed in leathers displaying her biking badges.

Criticism did not stop Tabbara, who fell in love with bikes when put on the back of one at age six, and she said she inspired other women to get on motor-bikes.

"Change is difficult for everybody, change is difficult for any society and in any community, particularly when it comes to women," she said.

"I actually talked a number of my female students into becoming bikers and they did. Yeah, that was quite something."

Tabbara's hobby has taken her from the small Gulf state of Bahrain around the region including rides in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan. (Reporting by Hamad Mohammad, writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)