Sportswear giant Nike has launched a culturally rich, empowering campaign that pays homage to Middle Eastern athletes and explores the challenges young Arab women aspiring to a professional sporting career may face. Yes, there are achingly cool close-ups of the signature Nike swoosh but this bold campaign goes far beyond selling hi-tech breathable sportswear, it delivers the region’s spirit and millennial outlook on what it is to be a Nike woman in the Middle East circa now.
The global label cherry-picked five pro and sporting aficionados from a range of disciplines, including Parkour Trainer Amal Mourad, boxer Arifa Bseiso, fencer Inès Boubakri, singer Balqees Fathi, and figure skater Zahra Lari to star in a short film that explores the question “What will they say about you?” narrated by Saudi artist Fatima Al-Banawi.
“There’s a fear to stand out and do something that’s not part of the norm… Don’t be afraid of your own greatness,” shares parkour athlete Amal Murad, who represents the United Arab Emirates.
“From the podium in Rio, I dedicated my medals to all Arab women,” says Ines Boubarki, a fencer from Tunisia, “And I hope my success can inspire others to surround themselves with positive people who push you to reach your goals and go for it.”
The film highlights the successes of these five women who compete in sport, against odds and sometimes cultural norms. Zahra Lari, a figure skater training to qualify for the 2018 Winter Games, appears in the final scene, featuring a young Lari taking her first steps onto the ice. “I’ve had a lot of criticism throughout my journey, but I’ve never let that stop me or bring me down,” adds Lari. “People should know that Emirati athletes are strong.”
With potency, Nike declares that “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” A statement that may challenge perceptions, but in so doing, a greater diversity in the sporting arena looks ever hopeful.