“How many women here have faced challenges as a professional, either in the office, in sports, or out in the world?” Bianca Brigitte Bonomi, the Editor in Chief of Grazia Arabia, asked the excited group of strong, successful women who gathered at W Doha for the city’s first What She Said panel. Bonomi, as well as most of the audience, raised a hand, and it was no surprise.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you will always meet women who have been faced with inequality and injustice in their line of work, but the Middle East is perceived as an exceptionally difficult place for women to thrive. Through this discussion, however, stereotypes were dismantled from the bottom up with a series of talks and events celebrating a thriving group of women dominating one of the most gendered professions: professional sports.
The panel, held at W Doha, featured Reem Al Sharshani, a professional Skeet Shooter on the Qatar National Team; Aisha Al Naama, a mountain climber; and Yasmian Al Sharshani, a professional golfer and the only female member of the Qatari National Golf team. Interviewed by Bonomi and attended by thriving female professionals from around the city.
With an art show, a HIIT workout class, and great opportunities to network with other strong women, this gathering wasn’t just about discussing female power, it was about showing it, too. Watch the talk and see what we learned from the group of exceptional athletes who always go for the gold.
Keep Climbing Towards What You Love
“I feel like one life isn’t enough to do all the things that one can do,” says Aisha Al Naama, who, as a mountain climber, continues to set goals and physically surpassing them. Not only has Aisha broken boundaries by climbing difficult terrain around the world, the two highest mountain peaks in Africa and Europe, but she has been on an Arctic expedition 78 degrees North point, cycled 750km across Europe and ran the Great Wall of China 42km marathon. She tries to use these challenges as an opportunity to give back to the community and connect each challenge to a good cause whether fundraising to build schools for kids or to raise awareness about an important cause such as mental health. Whether you are climbing a mountain or starting your own business, Aisha urged the women in the audience to just keep going. “You need to find the spark and keep chasing it.”
“Find the spark and keep chasing it.” Aisha Al Naama
Shoot For the Stars (and For A Lot of them)
Professional skeet shooter, Reem Al Sharshani, believes this goal-oriented mindset is the key to being successful but urges women to try a lot of things beyond your expertise. “It’s never too late to find something that you might like,” she says, commenting how her passions for sports stretch way past skeet shooting. She also loves to shoot archery, run, and is training to be a dietician. Doing a lot of things – even if you don’t do all of them well – is a great way to push your skills, boost your confidence, and meet new people. For Reem, being a straight shooter means making a lot of shots, but always pushing past where people may expect you to stop. “Once you achieve your goal, look for another goal. Always move forward.”
“Once you achieve your goal, look for another goal.” Reem Al Sharshani
A Hole In One Can Come From Anyone
Yasmian Al Sharshani agrees. “Just try everything,” the professional golfer says. As the only female on the national golf team, Yasmian comments that her male opponents are often surprised to see her on the course. Her advice is to just keep playing even – if you feel the eyes on you, or even if you may hear discouraging words. In work or on the field, being confident goes a long way, and when it comes down to it: “It doesn’t matter if you are a girl, it matters if you work hard.”
“It doesn’t matter if you are a girl, it matters if you work hard.” Yasmian Al Sharshani
About the Panelists
Bianca Brigitte Bonomi is the Editor in Chief of Grazia Arabia and has written for publications such as GQ, DAZED, and Harper’s Bazaar Qatar.
Reem Al Sharshani is a professional Skeet Shooter on the Qatar National Women’s Team who recently won the gold in shooting.
Aisha Al Naama is a mountain climber and world traveler, the only Qatari woman to climb the Arctic 78 degrees North Point.
Yasmian Al Sharshani is a professional golfer and the only female member of the Qatari National Golf team.