The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy will respond to demand by offering instruction in horse jumping, figure skating, swimming and golf in the coming months.
“More Emirati women are coming to us and expressing an interest in pursuing a career in sports,” says Fatima Al Ali, the academy’s international sports events coordinator.
The non-for-profit government entity, which was established in October 2010, is dedicated to promoting and facilitating women’s sports in the UAE. That is achieved by hosting sporting events and through developing and managing local talent.
The academy, which partners with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, other government entities and sports federations, offers training in basketball, handball, shooting, karate, and ju-jitsu.
“Culture does not clash with sports,” says Al Ali. “And we see Emirati and Arab women take up new places in sports that have been dominated by male athletes.”
In the last two years, the 23-year-old mountaineer has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Fuji in Japan. She plans on making Mount Everest her 10th ascent.
“Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. I did all the climbing wearing my Shayla and so if you are a covered woman, it shouldn’t stop you from pursing your sport dream.”
Al Ali says that while sometimes it is family pressure that prevents women from pursing sports, the situation is “slowly changing”.
“We are lucky in the UAE to have support of our Government,” says Al Ali.
“So many Arab nations don’t support their female athletes, and so I am sure there will be many new champions from among our women in the future.”