SHARJAH // Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, attended the opening of the Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah Centre in Al Qarayen on Thursday.
The new facility, the largest young ladies centre in the Middle East, includes a sports complex with an Olympic-size swimming pool, an aerobics hall, a 345-seat theatre, and spaces for music and drama activities.
The facility is accessible to those with special needs.
Sheikha Jawaher said the centre provided a platform for young women wanting to find a positive outlet for their creativity.
“It is inspired by this vision in their endeavours to foster a generation of creative young ladies who adhere to their social and cultural roots, are up-to-date on current developments in the world, and able to contribute to UAE society,” he said.
The centre is the fourth of its kind in the northern emirate, with the others in Al Riqa, Khor Fakkan and Kalba.
Jawaher Al Blooshi, 14, joined Sajaya 18 months ago to practise acting.
“I have a talent in acting, and I did not have a place in the past to practise my talent and to develop it,” said the teenager who has ambitions to be a film director. “When I read an advertisement in a newspaper about Sajaya centre, I registered.”
Khawla Al Zarooni started practising creative writing when she was 10 and joined the centre to improve her skills.
“Before joining the centre I used to write in a random way without using the technical structure of writing,” said the 17 year old. “The writing workshops have taught me how to write in a technical way and improve my writing skill.”
Maryam Al Naqi, another 17 year old, joined the centre a year ago to practise acting. Instead, she discovered a talent for drawing.
“I had never practised drawing before in my life. When I joined the centre the drawing workshops attracted me,” she said. “ After a while they told me that there was this biennial competition. I did a painting and I didn’t expect that I would win, but then I found myself a winner.”
Grade 8 pupil Noura Al Husani, 13, joined the centre to develop her interest in drawing.
“I heard about the centre at my school and my friends who are already members there encouraged me to join because it will develop my passion in drawing.”
Noura’s mother, Fatima Khamis, said that she encouraged her daughter to visit the centre to develop her talent and spend her free time practising a hobby she enjoyed.
“My daughter was a member in another branch in Al Riqa, but she stopped because it was far away from our house,” she said.
“This new one is close to the house, so I encouraged her to join to spend her free time practising what benefits her.”
Sheikha Aisha Al Qasimi, the Administration of Girls Centres assistant manager, said the new facility was bigger than the others.
“Almost all have the same activities, but here we have more classes. Here we have three music classes, which means we can run three classes similtanously.”
Previously, the facilities were only for Emiratis from Sharjah. Now, Emirati girls between ages 12 and 18 from anywhere in the UAE can attend
“There is a sister organisation for children who are under the age of 12,” said Sheikha Aisha.
“When they reach the age of 12 girls join Sajaya centre. After 18 years old, they can come back to us as volunteers to help us in teaching and organising.”