LONDON – An online commercial was released by the famous sports brand Nike this week, showing Arab women speaking up in an attempt to break stereotypes about women that lead lives confined at home. These powerful women were seen fencing, boxing and spinning freely on ice-skates.
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The ad was filmed in the downsized and old-fashioned outlying districts of Dubai, and most certainly showcases the struggles faced by women all over the Gulf Arab emirate region.
24-year old Amal Mourad, an Emirati parkour athlete, voices to us her own story about how her father was always reluctant to allow her to train in a gym with men present.
She told Reuters, “Convincing my father was the toughest part.. if you want something bad enough you stick to it, and you can get it done.”
Mourad now teaches classes in a mixed-gender gym and can be seen leaping across rooftops in this commercial.
The ad was shared 75,000 times on Twitter within the first 48 hours of its release and was viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube.
Twitter, famous spokespeople, as well as Arab men, did not hold in praising the ad and spoke out in support.
Sara al-Zawqari, on behalf of the International Red Cross in Iraq, lauded Nike’s effort on Twitter:
— sara al-zawqari (@SaraAlZQ) February 18, 2017
A stand-up comedian also expressed his praise on the fact that Muslims were “finally [in] an ad for our region.”
A really cool ad. –– Nike’s Celebration of Middle Eastern Athletes is Bold and Brave https://t.co/DWJyP5YThK
— سلطان سعود القاسمي (@SultanAlQassemi) February 18, 2017
While criticism always seeps in from claims raising back concerns about Nike’s unethical employment of child labour and inclusivity of the ad, it can be said, without a doubt, that the commercial has helped Arab women tap into an emerging new market for themselves in an entertainment industry that submits them to subordinate roles.
Dubai advertising executive Nadim Ghassam quoted, “We need to start driving the conversation away from Arab women being subjects of segregation, or oppression … and more towards them being enablers, achievers and go-getters.”