Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1379, (1 -7 February 2018)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1379, (1 -7 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Be a winner in Sharjah

The opening ceremony of the fourth edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament starts Friday in Sharjah, reports Inas Mazhar


Arab Women Sports Tournament

Organised by the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF) and taking place from 2-12 February, this year’s edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST) will host a number of elite officials and sports personalities.

The fourth edition of the event will gather 70 teams from 17 Arab nations competing across nine games that include fencing, basketball, show jumping, table tennis, karate, archery, volleyball, athletics and shooting.

Participation of the guests is in alignment with SWSF’s strategy to promote Sharjah’s expertise in the sporting arena and to encourage women in the UAE to participate in physical activity.

Taking place under the slogan ‘The World Is Your Court… Be a Winner,’ AWST 2018’s special guests include Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, and Princess Haifa bint Mohamed bin Saud Al-Saud, director general of the same organisation.

Also attending is Khaled Abdel-Aziz, Egyptian minister of youth and sports and head of the Executive Office of the Arab Ministers of the Youth and Sports Council, Sherif Al-Eryan, secretary-general of Egyptian Olympic Committee and Nour Al-Sherbini, Egyptian world squash champion.

Commenting on the guests’ attendance at the AWST 2018 opening ceremony Nada Askar Al-Naqbi, deputy chairperson of the AWST Supreme Organising Committee (SOC), and head of AWST’s Executive Committee and director general of SWSF, said: “Hosting these key personalities reflects the importance of this tournament and underscores its worthy message, which calls on everyone to make greater efforts to support and empower women through the largest-of-its-kind sports platform in the Arab world.”

Arab Women Sports Tournament

“Through organising this tournament, we seek to further enhance its stature as a global women’s sporting event as part of our commitment to elevating the role of women in sports. We invited these honourable personalities because they work towards the same goals as we do, which is to support women sports in the Arab world and provide female athletes with the best opportunities to develop and showcase their talents and skills in the sporting arena,” Al-Naqbi said.

Princess Reema, winner of the 2017 Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, is representing Saudi women whose extraordinary capabilities have led them to hold leadership posts. The princess was recognised by Forbes in 2014 as one of the 200 Most Powerful Arab Women.

Princess Reema was appointed vice president of Planning and Development at the General Sport Authority in 2016 and is an advisory board member of the Saudi National Creative Initiative, a collaborative knowledge exchange platform for talented young Saudis that aims to leverage their creativity and develop their skills.

Abdel-Aziz held office in the cabinet of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb in 2014. In addition to being president of the National Youth Fund, he chaired the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006 and the U-20 World Cup of 2009.

Al-Aryan is head of Egypt’s Modern Pentathlon Federation, while world squash champion Al-Sherbini is the first Egyptian female to win the British Junior Open under-13 category. She became the youngest world champion in the history of the sport when she won the women’s title at the World Junior Squash Championships.

Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohamed Al-Qassimi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah, and chair of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah and of the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation, is calling on officials, government bodies and private establishments across the world about the need to strengthen their efforts in supporting women and young girls in sports.

Arab Women Sports Tournament

Sheikha Jawaher’s call came during a recent follow-up on AWST’s final preparations as part of her vision that women in sports play a significant role in promoting a more positive environment, productivity and performance for a nation’s economy, culture, education and social values.

According to Sheikha Jawaher, the tournament is more than just a regional women’s sports event, with trophies and medals. “AWST is a calling for Arab nations and their communities to strive in their investments and support women and female athletes, and develop a modernised community that invests in women for exceptional and professional athletic experiences.”

She recalled the challenges Sharjah underwent when it first began developing a dedicated world-class sports tournament only for Arab women, noting that many Arab communities were inspired by the volume of dedicated efforts Sharjah has invested into the conceptualisation of something new and first of its kind in the region. However gradually, the region began to recognise AWST as a platform that uniquely empowered women with the opportunity of representing their nations during their paths to athletic victory.

“The topic of women in sports promotes an endless set of initiatives thanks to the bandwidth of social opportunities and business sectors it is normally tied to. When promoting women in sports, we are also promoting a healthy lifestyle, one that is founded on the principles of building a wellness community capable of creating positive impacts across various elements in our society for the long run,” Sheikha Jawaher said.

“The current global expenditure on obesity today is $2 trillion annually, that is, 2.8 per cent of global annual GDP, and obese people are 50 per cent less productive at the workplace than an athlete.”

Sheikha Jawaher underscored that sport contributes greatly to strengthening efforts for the empowerment of women on various levels, especially since women make up roughly half the Arab world’s population of 370 million people – sizeable human capital, which if given the right opportunities and strong support, will take the entire Arab region to new heights, benefiting both present and future generations.

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