The Five Badass Female Athletes that inspired Nike’s Pro Hijab


Nike recently announced its development of a long-awaited product for many females in the Muslim community, the Pro Hijab. Set to launch in 2018, the Pro Hijab is lightweight, breathable, and un-shiftable. The product was tested by some of the elite hijabi athletes who inspired it. Not only have these women overcome cultural and traditional barriers, but also obstacles set by international sports associations.

We’re not kidding, when we say these women shatter all kinds of boundaries: whether it’s a figure skater from the desert, or the first hijabi to play their sport on a national level…these women never took no for an answer.  Some even have become the first females to represent their country in the Olympics.

Meet the women who have inspired the Pro Hijab and now millions of girls around the world.  Go Nike for recognizing these amazing women:


Amna Al Haddad


The Pro Hijab owes its existence to this Emirati Olympian weightlifter, who went to the Nike Global Headquarters in Oregon and expressed her frustrations. She had found only one headscarf that worked for, and even that had to be hand-washed daily. Six years ago, she was a slightly overweight journalist who wanted to make a lifestyle change. Since then, she’s been the first Emirati to compete in the Reebok Crossfit Games and the Asia Regionals (she was also the first hijabi to do so). She’s competed at the Arnold sports festival multiple times, and won 6 gold medals in the IWF Asian Interclub Championship. “The most important thing to do is take action,” she says in a video on Nike’s YouTube channel. “I’m an everyday person who just made it happen. I was not given the tools or the circumstances. I just created it and I made it happen.


Manal Rostom


Born and raised in Kuwait, this Egyptian runner has been athletic her whole life. After going to college in Egypt, she became a pharmacist and moved to Dubai, where she took on a job as a part time fitness instructor and earned international certification as a Les Mills RPM trainer. When she noticed hijabi women weren’t featured in running ads, she contacted the Head Coach of Nike Running Middle East and initiated the ad campaign. Later, she was invited the NTC Global Summit, the first Arab trainer to be invited. She also started a Facebook group called “Surviving Hijab”, which hundreds of thousands of girls have joined. Currently, she’s featured in the Pro Hijab ads and has tested the product herself. “Honestly, the sky’s the limit,” she said in an interview with Physique TV. “I’ve dived in my hijab, I’ve climbed mountains in my hijab, I’ve ran marathons and ran triathlons in my hijab. So honestly nothing stops you.”


Zahra Lari


Dubbed the “Ice Princess” in the UAE, Zahra Lari aims to be the first Emirati to compete in the Winter Olympics come 2018. In the meantime, she represents her country in international competitions all over the world and trains four to seven hours a day while studying environmental safety and health at Abu Dhabi University.  She was inspired to figure skate after watching the Disney film “Ice Princess”, but it wasn’t smooth gliding at first. “When I first stepped onto the ice, I fell,” she said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “I knew that I just needed to figure out how to get back up and keep trying. So that’s what I did. Fall after fall, I kept getting back up.”


Sarah Attar


Born and raised in America, Attar is a dual citizen of the United States and of Saudi Arabia. She represented the latter nation in the 2012 Olympics, one of the first of two women to do so. When she crossed the finish line in the women’s 800 m, she drew cheers from the entire stadium. She competed in the Olympics again, in Rio, and this time one of her fans, Cariman Abu al-Jadail, competed, representing Saudi Arabia as well. “Cariman came up to me at the Boston Marathon two years ago and said she was running because of what I did [in London 2012],” said Attar in an interview with Runner’s World. “That right there is what this is all about.”


Ruqaya Al-Ghasra


This list would be incomplete if it failed to mention this lady legend who, in 2004, was the first hijabi ever to compete in the Olympics, and the first woman to represent Bahrain there as well. Prior to the Olympics, she started competing in 2000 and, in 2003, won gold medals in the Arabian Championships. Shortly after, she won three silver medals in the Asian Indoor Championships and participated in the World Indoor Championships. She participated in the 2008 Olympics and the World Championships in Athletics in 2009 before retiring later that year. Of course, these are only a few of her accomplishments on the track. “It’s not just a matter of wearing a piece of cloth,” she said in an interview with the International Association of Athletics Federations. “There is something very special about wearing the hijab. It gives me strength. I feel lots of support from society because I am wearing the Islamic hijab. There is a relationship between the hijab and the heart.”


Let us know your thoughts on the Nike Pro Hijab.


By: Zarina Akbary




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