The hijab has been a controversial piece of clothing for many years. Religious and cultural views have been in conflict on a national and international level. Despite any differences in opinion, the hijab will always remain a sacred way of life for so many women around the world. A famous example of an American multinational corporation that embraces people from all walks of life is inevitably, Nike. Its journey with the hijab started in 2017 when the groundbreaking launch of its Pro Hijab line occurred and the Egyptian athlete, Manal Rostom, was introduced to the world.
Let’s first go back in time to the point when Manal Rostom was still a simple athlete, and build our way up to her feature in Nike’s latest project, Dream Crazier. So, who was Manal Rostom before being a Nike ambassador? According to Scene Arabia, her athletic aspirations started in grade school, and that sparked a reaction of consecutive accomplishments; most notably, running seven marathons, and becoming the first Egyptian woman to climb two of the seven highest summits on each continent, Kilimanjaro (Africa) and Elbrus (Europe). TEDx Talks added that she was the first Egyptian woman to run the Great Wall of China Marathon, reach the Everest Base Camp, and attempt the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua. To get a dose of motivation, you can watch her talk at TEDxYouth@EBIS via this link.
Rostom didn’t start wearing the hijab until 2001 and almost took it off in 2014. It was then that she created the Facebook page, Surviving Hijab, which currently stands at 647,552 members! To quote the description of the group where Rostom addresses her fellow ladies, “This is just for all the beautiful ladies out there who have taken the (very difficult) decision to wear the hijab for days, months, or years now, still battling with the decision or have given in and given it up.” She continues, “So since nobody likes to go it alone, I have decided to create this group to urge those who are veiled (and those who are considering in these hard times) to continue holding on to this hard 3ebada”.
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), it was in 2015 that our champion was noticed by a Nike head coach in the Middle East, before becoming the first hijabi woman to appear in a Nike running Middle East ad. Most recently, About Her revealed Manal Rustom featuring in Nike’s latest campaign, “Dream Crazier”, that was launched on the 26th of May. They explain that the main content of the initiative revolves around breaking down barriers and disallowing limitations. The campaign features other Arab athletes, including UAE skating national champion, Zahra Lari, the first Arab to join the International Skating Union. Be sure to check out our national hero’s featured video in the Dream Crazier campaign.
The Nike campaign description reads, “Marathon Runner and Mountaineer Manal dreams of being the first Egyptian to run the six major marathons and climb the seven highest mountains”. Well Manal, always know that we are rooting for you every step of the way until you achieve this incredible milestone. As for all the Hijabi ladies out there, be proud of who you are! In the words of the star athlete, “We shouldn’t judge women. Whether they’re white or black, have short hair or long hair, choose to wear the hijab or walk around naked.”
Follow Rostom’s Instagram account to update and inspire yourself with her endless achievements.