Ons Jabeur and Ibtissam Jraidi among 10 Arab sportswomen to watch in 2024

We look at Arab female athletes primed for success on the big stage

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur had a decent 2023 despite struggling with injuries. Reuters
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It was a memorable year for Arab women in the world of sport and 2024 promises to be even better. Here we take a look at some of those expected to make a mark.

Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) – Tennis

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Despite numerous injuries disrupting her 2023 season, Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur still managed to win two titles during the year and reached a second consecutive Wimbledon final and third overall at the Grand Slam level.

The 29-year-old concluded her campaign ranked No 6 in the world – her third straight year-end top-10 finish – and qualified for the WTA Finals for a second consecutive season.

A trailblazer for Arab and North African women in sport, Jabeur landed at No 18 on Forbes’ most recent list of highest-paid female athletes on the planet, with an estimated total earnings of $5.7 million in 2023.

Having fallen short at the final stage at the majors on three previous occasions, Jabeur is as determined as ever to clinch that elusive Grand Slam crown, with many tipping her to reign supreme at Wimbledon in 2024.

Kaylia Nemour (Algeria) – Gymnastics

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At 16 years of age and with a stunning uneven bars routine that is arguably one of the most difficult to ever be attempted, French-born Algerian Kaylia Nemour clinched a silver medal in the apparatus at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp.

She also reached the final in the individual all-around competition, placing eighth with a total score of 53.966, just 4.433 shy of Simone Biles’ gold medal-winning tally.

It was a historic feat as Nemour became the first African gymnast in history to compete in a World Championship final and secure a medal and it earned her a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics, where she will undoubtedly be a top contender in uneven bars.

“If I continue with this momentum, I really think I have a chance to get an Olympic medal, which would be the result of a lot of years of work. It would be just magical,” Nemour told The National in October.

Hana Goda (Egypt) – Table tennis

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A familiar name on this annual list, Hana Goda has been setting records and making history in table tennis ever since she was 12 years old, when she became the first African or Arab player to be ranked No 1 in the ITTF under-15 women's world rankings.

After becoming the youngest finalist at the African Championship (at the senior level) when she was just 13, Goda clinched the title in 2023, becoming the youngest champion in the competition’s history at 15.

Ranked inside the world’s top 30 and having already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics with Egypt, Goda, who turned 16 in December, has a big year ahead of her and is one of the most exciting prospects in the Arab world and the African continent.

Safiya Al Sayegh (UAE) – Cycling


The UAE’s first professional female cyclist, Safiya Al Sayegh has entered the history books as the first Emirati woman to qualify for the cycling road race at the Olympics.

The Paris-bound 22-year-old is also the first Emirati woman to join a UCI World Team and made her European debut with UAE Team ADQ in 2023 at the Princess Anna Vasa Tour in Poland in July.

Her World Tour debut came shortly after as she lined up alongside teammates at the Tour of Chongming Island in China in October.

That came on the heels of a strong showing at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, where she placed ninth in the individual time trial and 11th in the road race.

Al Sayegh is a multiple-time Arab champion and a bronze medallist in the U23 individual time trial at the 2022 Asian Cycling Championships.

Keep an eye on the talented Emirati as she builds up to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Ibtissam Jraidi (Morocco) - Football


A glancing header from Ibtissam Jraidi that beat South Korea’s ‘keeper Kim Jung-mi on July 30, 2023, was the first ever goal scored by a Moroccan or Arab team at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The 31-year-old Jraidi played a crucial role in the Atlas Lionesses’ historic march to the last-16 stage last summer, which earned her a nomination for the 2023 African Player of the Year award by CAF.

The Casablanca native spent a decade playing for Moroccan side ASFAR, with whom she won the Moroccan Championship nine times, and the Throne Cup eight times.

Jraidi was a standout in ASFAR’s run to the CAF Women’s Champions League title in 2022, claiming top-scorer honours with six goals, including a hat-trick in the final.

In December 2022, she signed a two-year deal to move to Saudi Women's Premier League side Al Ahli and despite joining them halfway through the 14-week campaign, she finished second in the race for the golden boot with 17 goals scored for the Jeddah-based outfit.

Morocco have advanced to third round of Paris 2024 Olympics qualification, and will be looking to keep up the momentum from their groundbreaking World Cup performances.

They are also the hosts of the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and will be considered one of the favourites for the title.

Lucky for the Moroccans, their tireless forward Jraidi is always ready to deliver on the big stage.

Julyana Al Sadeq (Jordan) – Taekwondo

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This time last year, Julyana Al Sadeq sat atop the summit of the world taekwondo rankings in the -67kg category, marking the first time a Jordanian or Arab woman reached the No 1 position in the sport.

An Asian Games gold medallist in 2018, and World Championship silver medallist in 2023, Al Sadeq has qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics, where she will be a serious medal contender.

The 29-year-old went viral on her Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020 after people noticed she looked like pop star Lady Gaga. In Paris, she will likely make headlines for her performances on the mat.

“I believe that God put me in this place to break the stereotype, to show all societies that girls can play a combat sport, girls can wear a hijab and fight,” the two-time Asian Championships gold medallist told Olympics.com in a recent interview. “Girls can inspire other girls to take the step and follow their dream, to practise the sport they love, not just taekwondo.”

Farida Osman (Egypt) – Swimming

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The face of Egyptian swimming ever since she stormed to gold in the 50m butterfly at the World Junior Championships back in 2011, Farida Osman is the gift that keeps on giving.

The only Arab woman to win a medal at a World Aquatics Championships – she won bronze twice in the 50m butterfly – Osman is getting ready to compete in her fourth Olympic Games, where she hopes to become the first Arab woman to make the podium in swimming.

Osman is the African record holder in 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle long-course events (also African record holder in 50m and 100m butterfly in short course).

The Cairo native was a whisker away from clinching bronze in the 50 fly at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka last July, ultimately coming in fourth. It was still an incredible achievement considering Osman had reached the final in the event at six consecutive World Championships – a level of consistency only few can accomplish in the pool on the global stage.

Osman is back training at UC Berkeley for the season, with her eyes fixed firmly on the 2024 Olympics.

While her signature event, the 50 fly, is not part of the Olympics programme, watch out for Osman in the 100 fly and 50 and 100 free in Paris this summer.

Shokhan Nooraldin (Iraq) – Football


In the inaugural edition of the Saudi Women’s Premier League last season, Iraqi forward Shokhan Nooraldin won the golden boot with a stunning 43-goal tally – 15 of which came in one game against Sama – to help Al Hilal secure second place behind Al Nassr.

Already an established futsal and handball player, the 23-year-old quickly made headlines upon signing with Al Hilal, scoring the first super-hattrick in the history of the club on her debut against Al Shabab in the opening round of the league.

Her goal-scoring exploits have led fans and journalists to dub her the ‘Erling Haaland of Saudi women’s football’, likening her ruthlessness up front to that of the Manchester City star.

After a successful first campaign – top-scoring with 43 goals in just 14 games – Nooraldin signed a new deal that will keep her at Al Hilal until at least 2026.

In the current 2023-2024 season, she has netted six times in as many appearances for the Riyadh-based club so far. Can she help Al Hilal go one better and secure the league title?

Nour El Sherbini (Egypt) – Squash

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The force that is Nour El Sherbini starts the new year entering her 229th week as the world No 1 in squash.

The 28-year-old Alexandrian wrestled back the top spot from compatriot Nouran Gohar twice in 2023 and has been at the summit since September.

Having captured a seventh World Championship title last May, El Sherbini will be gunning for a record-equalling eighth crown this season, which would see her tie Nicol David and Jansher Khan for most World titles won in squash history.

Will the Egyptian ‘Warrior Princess’ make that happen this May?

Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi (Morocco) – Athletics


Last summer, Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi spoiled what was going to be an Ethiopian podium sweep by clinching bronze in the marathon at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

It was the first ever World Championship medal won by a Moroccan or Arab woman in the marathon event and it earned Gardadi a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win this medal,” the 31-year-old Gardadi told The National in September. “I’m so proud to bring this medal to the entire Arab world, and to Moroccan people specifically. It gives me even greater motivation to put in more effort to bring home a gold medal from the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

Gardadi grew up idolising her fellow Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, who is a two-time world champion marathoner and Olympic silver medallist.

“At the age of 36, he won an Olympic medal [in Beijing 2008]. So he did it at such an advanced age, no one had done what he has done,” she explained. “He is a role model for me and I wish to achieve what he has achieved, which would be a first for Moroccan women in my discipline.”

To read Reem Abulleil's top 10 Arab sportswomen to watch out for in 2024, click here.

Updated: February 12, 2024, 12:26 PM