EMIRATI WOMEN MAKING STRIDES IN WELLNESS, FITNESS, AND SPORTS

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In honor of upcoming UAE National Day, HEALTH meets four dynamic Emirati women who are making wellbeing and optimal health a way of life.

hala-kazimEmirati life coach, author, and social media personality Hala Kazim inculcates wellness in many ways; from ‘Journey Through Change’—- her organization to help women find their inner strength to her new television program.
NEW TELEVISION PROGRAM
“The show is on MBC Saudia, one of the talk channels in the Arab world, and the program is called ‘Kalam Nawaem’. It is basically about society, health, and mental health, and anything to do with the community. I am one of the speakers and life coaches there.”
THE AUTHOR
“I have also published two books. The first one talks about my experiences and my humble beginnings. It also talks about various obstacles I faced while hiking with my esteemed participants. In my second book, I shared valuable thoughts about one’s inner self and society as a whole.”
UAE AND THE CONCEPT OF HEALTH
“H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed just recently announced that there is a big challenge to wellness and fitness here. So, UAE is going moving very fast towards taking care of our health and our body.”


FINDING TIME TO UNWIND
“First, I do meditation. Secondly, I travel at least once a year by myself. I disconnect as much as I can from social media and other distractions. And I read, do massage, and walk alone to unwind. Also, I disconnect by spending time with my family and friends.”

Fitness Instructor Amna Al Marri embarked upon fitness in 2012 by taking kickboxing and body pump classes. She then trained in kickboxing for about two years and after the trainer left, she moved on to CrossFit.

amna-al-marriINSPIRATION
“Firstly, I inspired myself, and secondly, my parents were encouraging. So, basically the motivators were my mom, dad, and my kickboxing trainer.”

CHALLENGES
“My family was ashamed when I ran outside in the neighborhood with a hoodie. However, I was convinced that as long as I was properly dressed and covered, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Until one day, I appeared in a NIKE ad doing the same thing; running with a hijab and all. I got a lot of ‘how dare you do this’ comments, but more ‘I’m so proud of you’ compliments.”

WELLNESS AND HEALTH IN UAE
“This has changed a lot. Especially now, women are more open to doing sports, not only a normal gym session, but participating in many different sports and winning races. We now have a wide variety of sports and in fact, our leaders are encouraging and challenging, and even reward us for the sake of health and fitness.”

Outdoor-adventure professional Hanady Alhashmi began exploring interesting old settlements and villages along mountain cliffs in the UAE and Oman. Some were easy to reach, but some required advanced skills, speed, and endurance to reach so she began training and increasing her endurance from 6 to 11 hour hikes.

hanady-alhashmiOVERCOMING OBSTACLES
“What I love about this sport is that the learning capabilities are endless; it challenges you not only physically, but mentally. Getting out of your comfort zone is the biggest step, doing your research, and taking the necessary steps to make sure you are reducing the risks as much as possible. This includes going with the right group, knowledgeable guides and leaders, and choosing the right equipment and shoes. It is all a learning process…”

EMIRATI WOMEN MAKING STRIDES
“Thanks to social media, women are becoming more active and others are following in their footsteps. UAE women, with the support of their families, friends, and country are now reaching new heights– climbing mountains, running triathlons, getting into CrossFit games, and much more.”

MOVING FORWARD
“I have completed four of the seven summits up till now, namely; Kilimanjaro, Elbrus Aconcagua, and Denali, in that order. What is remaining are Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid, and Everest. The seven summits are the highest mountain peaks in the seven continents as per the ‘Messner Version’. I aspire to climb all seven summits, and put the UAE on the map. The following years will be more about focusing on more technical climbs in order to improve my skills and better prepare for the expeditions to follow.”

Zahra Lari has been ice skating since she was 12, but started training properly and taking the sport more seriously at age 15.

zahra-lariTHE START
“When I was 12, I saw the movie ‘Ice Princess’ and immediately fell in love with the technicality and beauty of the sport. The movie looks at the sport from a scientific point of view as well as the athletic struggles that are prevalent in society. It was from this movie that my journey in sports began.”

MANY MOTIVATORS
“I don’t really have a key motivator. I have many motivators; the first is ‘The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy’ which has been my supporter and encourager since the beginning. They believe in me and have the same goals for women in sports that I have. The second is my family who have supported and made sacrifices for me. The third is all of the women that struggle to find acceptance or ability to participate in sports. They motivate me to keep doing what I am doing to see change in society’s perspective for women in sports worldwide.”

WOMEN ENTERING SPORTS
“The changes of women in sports in the UAE in the past decade are phenomenal. The work that ‘The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy’ is doing for UAE women is amazing. It is through their support that the UAE has female disciplines in almost all sports and host multiple international competitions and Ladies Sports Conferences each year. Also, I think the way people think of women in sports is changing and society is more accepting of this new healthy role that women are playing.”

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