Just do it, hijabi style: Nike unveils modest sportswear range

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Manal Rostom, runner, triathlete, mountain climber and sporting pioneer in the Middle East sports Nike’s hijab headgear.
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Updated 08 March 2017

Just do it, hijabi style: Nike unveils modest sportswear range

JEDDAH: The Nike Pro Hijab may have been more than a year in the making, but its impetus can be traced much further back to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more Muslim women than ever embracing sport.
The movement first raised the international consciousness when a hijabi runner took the field at the 2012 London Olympics.
Nike on Tuesday launched their new Pro Hijab women-empowering initiative to further support Muslim women.
“Nike’s mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to all athletes,” said Megan Saalfeld, Global Nike spokeswoman. “And we’re thrilled that Nike can deliver a product innovation that female athletes in the region told us they wanted and needed.”
There is a growing demand for modest wear in the global market. Recently, Debenhams partnered with the world’s leading modest-wear clothing brand Aab for a new fashion range.
The New York fashion week 2017 witnessed a strong presence of modest wear as well. In just two seasons, Indonesian Muslim designer Anniesa Hasibuan has made the hijab her trademark — and dazzled New York fashion week’s catwalk by styling it with flowing, iridescent gowns fit.
Saalfeld, a 13-year Nike employee, told Arab News that Nike is inspired by the unique beauty and culture of the region, and have hosted several of their design team members in Dubai over the past year to learn more about the Middle East.
“Our designers met with people from all areas of the Dubai and GCC community,” Saalfeld said. “From athletes to local historians, writers to artists these sessions allow our teams to learn more about the region, what athletes here want and need to perform better, and allow them to take this inspiration back to Oregon,” she added.
Muslim consumer spending on clothing is estimated at $243 billion in 2015, according to the State of Global Islamic Economy’s report. The revenues from modest fashion clothing purchased by Muslim women have been estimated at $44 billion in 2015. Muslim spending on clothing is expected to reach $368 billion by 2021.
However, these figures were not the reason that prompted Nike’s initiative. “This wasn’t part of the design process,” Saalfeld said.
According to Saalfeld, Amna Al-Haddad, a weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates, visited the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon in January 2016. She met with designers and the team in Nike Sport Research Lab. When she told the team that she only had one hijab for competition and would like something that was more specific for sport, the team responded.
“We’re in a place where we can bring Nike’s first performance hijab to select athletes in this region, with plans to have it commercially available in early 2018 to athletes around the world,” Saalfeld added.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud, vice president of Women’s Affairs of the General Authority of Sports, told Arab News that she is pleased to see that a global company like Nike sees the value in supporting the women of the Muslim community as this shows that sports truly can be inclusive.
“This is a game changer that opens up so many doors for girls in the region and around the world,” Al-Saud said.
Manal Rostom, Nike Run Club Coach, told Arab News the Nike Pro Hijab empowers her.
“As an athlete, you look up to role models who are endorsed by Nike and other big sports brands, and to have one of those brands support me as an Arab hijabi athlete, it empowers me to reach even greater heights, to run longer distances, because I have that support on me and behind me,” Rostom said.
Rostom said the sports hijab is a gift for women struggling whether to embrace hijab or not.
“This is the perfect gift and it goes beyond being a new product that Nike is selling – it’s going to empower all women to embrace hijab and embrace who they are,” she said.
Zahra Lari, an Emirati ice-skater, told Arab News that people might think or tell hijabi athletes that they cannot do certain things, “but I’m going to show them you (athletes) absolutely can,” she said. “I am covered, I am Muslim, I am from a desert country and I’m doing a winter sport. It’s fine to do what you love. My family is behind me, my country is behind me — and there’s no reason why I can’t achieve what I want to achieve.”


On the go with Saudi Arabia’s first professionally trained cycling club

Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally. (Supplied)
Updated 30 November 2020

On the go with Saudi Arabia’s first professionally trained cycling club

  • Saudi Arabia’s female population is enjoying the new wave of opportunities to live a healthy lifestyle

RIYADH: As sports and other activities continue to gain popularity in Saudi Arabia, residents are seeking out exciting ways to get moving.
The Kingdom’s female population are enjoying the new wave of opportunities that have been made available to them in recent years to live a healthy lifestyle.
Hiking, outdoor yoga and football are all popular choices, but one less familiar pastime on the increase is cycling.
Events such as the annual Saudi Tour and the General Sports Authority’s highly successful all-women’s cycling race in Jeddah in 2018 have fostered a growing interest in the sport.
Studies have shown that cycling improves overall health, more specifically improving mental health, strengthening the immune system, promoting weight loss, reducing heart disease and cancer and more.
Riding a bike can be one of the easiest forms of returning to fitness when you are bouncing back from an injury or illness.

Doves Ride organizes rides for all levels, from the gentle trails suitable for beginners to the more challenging routes for hardened cyclists. The group offers lessons that can help any beginner ride a bike safely. (Supplied)

A group of bike enthusiasts from Riyadh intend to spread the word and make people more aware of the healthy advantages of cycling and the joy that can be had on the back of a bicycle.
Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally. Shahd Alturki, Doves Ride’s founder and a professional cycling trainer, spoke to Arab News about why she set up the team.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A group of bike enthusiasts from Riyadh intend to spread the word and make people more aware of the healthy advantages of cycling and the joy that can be had on the back of a bicycle.

• Doves Ride is Saudi Arabia’s first professional cycling team, licensed both locally and internationally.

• Riding a bike can be one of the easiest forms of returning to fitness when you are bouncing back from an injury or illness.

“I founded Doves Ride to create an environment for women and families where they could get into sports,” Alturki said.
Based in Riyadh, Doves Ride’s goal is to create an environment where Saudis can discover what biking is like and meet others with similar interests.
“The idea was to create a team that would motivate Saudi society to start biking, and to raise awareness in general about sport and movement. We also wanted to help teach Saudis to cycle by creating a program to teach people in all categories,” she said.
Doves Ride organizes rides for all levels, from the gentle trails suitable for beginners to the more challenging routes for hardened cyclists.
“We welcome participants at any level, whether they are looking for a long-term membership or just to try it out,” said Alturki.
She also spoke about the benefits of the sport and hopes to encourage people to try it out for themselves.
“Biking is more than just a fun sport; it raises your fitness levels and can also boost your mental health,” she said.
For the more hesitant, Alturki reassures them that she is well-equipped to train them and get them on the path to biking like a pro.
“We have bike-riding lessons for zero-experience learners, licensed by the British Cycling Federation. Children, men and women are all welcome to take them. These lessons can help any beginner ride a bike safely, and teaches them all the necessary skills and basics,” she said.
Doves Ride can be contacted via their Twitter or Instagram accounts, @dovesride.