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‘Anything is possible’: Emirati female pioneer athletes inspire young women to follow their dreams – News

Amna Al Qubaisi, the first female racing driver from the UAE, says it feels great to achieve so much at a young age, but it takes courage and dedication to compete in a male-dominated sport

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published: Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 5:31 pm

Two Emirati female pioneers and ‘firsts’ in their fields, Zahra Lari, the first woman in history to compete in figure skating while wearing a hijab, and Amna Al Qubaisi, the first female Emirati racer, talk about their journey and what they have achieved Victory won. Young Emiratis have also revealed the challenges they face in the male-dominated sport.

At the Forbes 30/50 Forum in Abu Dhabi, during a panel discussion on ‘Women Athletes Rejecting the Status Quo’, Larry said she supports female representation in Middle Eastern sports and works tirelessly to build women’s sports communities regional.

Larry is the first woman in history to wear a headscarf in an international figure skating competition. It was Euro 2012 in Canazei, Italy, where she was deducted points for a “dress violation”.

The Emiratis are also the first UAE figure skater to compete in the 2018 Winter Qualifiers, leading the UAE to become the first Arab nation to join the International Skating Union.

Larry, who is currently the chief executive of the Emirates Skating Club and chair of the figure skating committee of the UAE Winter Sports Federation, said she first skated at the age of 12 after seeing the Disney film Ice Princess.

“When I saw the movie, I fell in love with skating. I told my mom I wanted to try the sport and she said ‘no’, emphasizing that I had to focus on my studies,” she told Khaleej on the sidelines of the Forbes 30/50 forum Times.

“But my dad loved the idea, and he started taking me to skating lessons after school. I started learning about this place for fun, and I didn’t think I’d take it as a career.”

When her passion for skating was high, she stepped up her training.

“I used to get up at 4.30am to practice and then practice for three hours after class. I was so keen to learn more skills that sometimes I had to eat and change in the car on the way to training because I didn’t have time. “

The Emiratis said she had a very good coach who helped her to her first international competition.

Larry said she never wanted to train abroad and they decided to start the Emirates Skating Club, which is the official skating club of the country, and they also brought in high-level coaches.

“We still have great coaches for the younger generation,” she said.

The Emirati said that when she married and gave birth to her first daughter in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, she decided to step back from international competition to focus on the younger generation.

Educating people about the sport of figure skating and telling them that women can compete in the sport, even at international competitions, is one of Larry’s biggest challenges.

The Emirati skater urged the younger generation to join in the joy of skating before they can take it to the next level.

Inspiring women to follow their dreams

Amna Al Qubaisi, Formula Emirates driver and the first female Emirati driver, said she is passionate about inspiring women to follow their dreams.

Al Qubaisi is the first Arab woman to win an FIA F4 race in 2019, the first Arab woman to win the RMC in 2017, the GCC Drivers Program and the O Plate in Dubai in 2019.

During a panel discussion at the Forbes 30/50 Forum in Abu Dhabi, she said her passion came from her father, himself a racing driver, starting in 2009.

“My dad inspired me to be a Formula 1 driver. He would come home and have the driver over for dinner,” Al Qubaisi said.

“When I listened, they would talk about racing and their favorite tracks. I picked a hobby and started practicing at 14. My dad supported me and taught me some skills to be a good racer.”

The Emirati said it felt great to achieve big at a young age, but it took grit and dedication to play in a male-dominated sport.

She faced the challenge of dealing with those who judged and criticized her participation in motorsports because she was a woman, but she ignored them and moved on.

“More women should join male-dominated sports and beyond. I urge women to follow their dreams and accept the fact that they should keep going to achieve who they want to be, because anything is possible,” she says.

The Forbes 30/50 Forum kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday as part of International Women’s Day, bringing together innovative young ultra-successful individuals as well as legends and icons with priceless experience.

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