UAE women encouraged and discouraged to become athletic.
People like to say the UAE is a country rife with contradictions-but the point couldn’t be better illustrated by two articles in the local press this week.
May 21, 2012 3:47 by Eva Fernandes
Kipp is a little tired of the ‘City of contradictions’ cliché, but we couldn’t help pointing out the rather ambivalent attitudes towards women in athletics.
First consider this article in Seven Days which began: “Young women have been warned not to hop on a jet ski alone and go for a ride off Dubai’s coast as they will distract men and could cause accidents.” Apparently, there have been several instances when men on jet skis have been intimidating and harassing their female counterparts on jet skis. Head of the Ports Police Station, Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Mohammed Al Mazyoud’s solution? ”We have noticed recently that many girls are riding the jet skis… I advise parents to monitor their daughters when they use jet skis. It is always better if there is someone else riding with a female jet skier…We have noticed that when men use jet skis and they see a woman riding on a jet ski they become excited.”
Of course, this type of ‘women take caution’ type of attitude isn’t new or particular to the UAE-but it is especially interesting in the light of this article published in The National today about Emirati female weight lifters. More specifically, the article, titled “The women lifting the sport to a new level” chronicles the achievements of the Emirates Weightlifting Federation which have coached women for the past four years-culminating in a UAE presence at the London Olympics later this year.”We never thought we would be in a position where we have qualified for the Olympics by 2012. We are really surprised, to be honest” says the girls’ coach Najwan El Zawawi.
Of course, trust ‘women’ to be at the heart of such kind of ambivalence, but Kipp wants to know which one is it? Does the UAE want to encourage women to train in sporting activities? Or is it not a problem, as long as it involves a large groups of girls only?