Seeing Arab women in sports has become anything but a rarity. A far cry from the landscape back in 1991, when Algerian track star Hassiba Boulmerka made history by becoming the first Arab woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Her win was considered to be controversial at the time due to her having run in shorts and a tank top.
But today, sartorial choices no longer get in the way. We’ve finally seen a rise in women in sports wearing the hijab. Their participation in sports has even been championed by sportswear giant, Nike, who released a techy hijab.
To celebrate the Arab female athletes walking the path Boulmerka paved, we’ve rounded up the athletes of today, who are leading the way for the next generation.
Arab or not, Farida Hisham is an inspiration to competitive swimmers. The Egyptian athlete is the fastest female swimmer in Egypt and Africa.
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You might recognise Rostom as the hijabi runner in Nike’s latest ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign. The Dubai-based Egyptian athlete is the first hijab-wearing Nike running coach, and the first woman to compete in an international marathon in her hijab.
Attar is an inspiration to all Saudi women. The track and field athlete made history after competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics as one of two women to first represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics. The 27-year-old also competed in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics.
The Tunisian long-distance runner won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, scoring Tunisia its first Olympic medal by woman.
Zahra Lari quickly rose to fame when she became the first Emirati figure skater from the UAE to compete internationally. She’s also the first figure skater to compete in a hijab, making her an inspiration to both Arab and Muslim women across the globe. It’s no surprise that Nike tapped the young athlete for their latest campaign.