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Friday, January 21, 2022

Breaking taboos, Arab women embrace athleticism on camera


An art installation commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority that highlights female Arab athletes in various stages of their careers will debut at Sotheby’s London this month.

The free Hey’Yah: Arab Women in Sport exhibition, which runs from July 25 to Aug. 15, features photographs by Brigitte Lacombe of more than 50 Arab sportswomen from 20 different Arab countries.

The women’s personal stories, which include an award-winning Sudanese weightlifter, an Egyptian long-jumper and a Tunisian fencer, are also told in videos shot by Marian Lacombe.

The installation, which will travel to Qatar next year, was made possible by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, 29-year-old daughter of the Emir, who is widely regarded as the art world’s most powerful woman.

The Financial Times reports:

On one level, of course, this was a brilliant way to promote Qatar’s new sporting image. But it also turned out to be a valuable investigation into the status of sport for women in countries where physical exercise is still severely restricted by religious tradition or directly banned and punishable by law…

Maryam Al-Boinin, the 14-year-old Qatari equestrian, registered the difference a decade has made between herself and her older sister. “When my sister started riding, girls didn’t have chances, they didn’t have clubs or opportunities to do these sports. Now … there are a lot of opportunities for girls to ride. What boys can do, girls can do. I’m so lucky.”

View Al-Boinin’s short video here. Read about the rest of the athletes and watch their stories here.


Credit: Photo courtesy of QMA’s Facebook page

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