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Bahrain: Eyes on Ruqaya Al Ghasra

Ruqaya Al Ghasra at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony Global Voices OlympicsShe may have placed sixth in the qualifying heats and her dreams of becoming the first Gulf Arab woman to run in an Olympic final may be dashed, but Bahrain's Golden runner Ruqaya Al Ghasra has sure created a stir online.

A rough start meant that Ghasra, who was Bahrain's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, was eliminated from the women's 200 metres race – but for tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim women – and men – out there, running her heart out fully covered has brought her more than just gold medals.

Kabobfest‘s Maytha makes the following announcement when Al Ghasra won her qualifying run fully covered:

I know it's just a meaningless preliminary victory, but not only will that moment have a strong effect on Bahraini, Arab, and Muslim men and women alike, but will and has served to open up a dialogic space in that region and here as well.

The blogger further explains:

I'll tell you why I love watching Olympic events with Arabs participants in public places. It gives me a chance to add some complexity to the general public's limited and simple understanding of the socio-political and cultural situation in the Middle East.

For A Moro in America, a Moroccan who lives in the US, Ghasra's success is living testimony that young people can reconcile between the demands of modern life and traditions.

He first has his axe to grind with the Moroccans for kicking out Moroccan-born Rashid Ramzi, who reaped Bahrain's only gold medal in the 1500m race in the Beijing Olympics, and says:

Two Bahraini runners stood out today with their brilliant performances in Beijing.
Moroccan-born Rashid Ramzi , who was kicked out from the Moroccan national team after he got injured, shot two birds with one stone. He thanked Bahrain, the nation that took care of his medical charges and offered him a job at the Defense Ministry, and paid back the Moroccan track & field officials who kicked had him out of the team and stopped paying him his salary of $50 a month.
The second Bahrain star is female runner, Roqaya al-Ghassra, who not only stood out of the crowd with her Hijhood – outfit covering her head and body designed by Lebanese-Australian Zaniti, the maker of Burqini,- but also won her heat, qualifying to the semi-final of the 200m race.
If this small success story is to teach Arab nations something, may be it is that a deliberate and a selective immigration policy can bring in the best talent [Ramzi in sports]. Also, innovation and creativity are great asset to reconcile between tradition and the requirements of a demanding modern life on the Arab youths [Hijhood, Al-Ghassra].

Modest and Beautiful which tracks famous hijab-clad women dedicates a post for Ghasra here.

6 comments

  • momo ould Jacqueline

    […and her dreams of becoming the first Arab woman to run in an Olympic final may be dashed…]

    Remember Olympic Game L.A. 1984 ?

    Nawal El Moutawakil a déjà couru et gagné une finale pendant les jeux olympiques 1984 aux Etats Unis.

    Nawal est marocaine : Arabo-musulmane…

  • juan

    Remember all female athletes,who won olympic an olympic gold medal:
    Nawal El Moutawakil(Morocco) in Los Angeles,1984
    Hassiba Boulmerka(Algeria) in Barcelona,1992
    Gadha Shoua(Syria) in Atlanta,1996
    Nouria Mérah-Benida(Algeria) in Sidney,000

    they are arab women!!!

  • Wonderful post, Amira! Ruqaya is awesome – I watched a couple of her heats and she runs like the wind. She only lost because her competitors were faster runners, NOT because of her hijab!

  • oops .. sorry .. I have amended that. I meant first Gulf Arab woman

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  • […] who don’t wear headscarves in the Olympics, too.Speaking of Olympics, Global Voices Online highlights Ruqaya Al-Ghasara.The Moor Next Door profiles Khatou El Boukhari’s role in her husband’s (the former […]

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