Sports giant Nike recently released a commercial shot in the outskirts of Dubai and it has a lot of people in the Arab and Muslim culture upset. The first scene of the commercial shows a young Muslim woman leaving her home with a hijab on her head to go jogging first thing in the morning. The commercial continues to highlight Muslim women performing athletically, such as swimming, boxing, and playing soccer while asking questions like, “What will they say about you?” It shows moments of triumph and overcoming fear in the world of sports.
The commercial received praise by some, particularly the Red Cross in Iraq, where Spokeswoman Sara al-Zawqari tweeted, “An ad (which) touches on the insecurities of women in a society digs deeper and becomes an empowerment tool rather than just a product.” Others, however, didn’t see it that way at all, saying things such as “an utter fail” and “not the true representation of Muslim women.” “We do not wear a hijab and go running in the streets, shame on Nike,” one woman expressed on Nike’s Instagram page.
Its safe to assume this ad will stir up a lot of conversation about athleticism in the Arab world, perhaps producing a market aimed at revealing the reality of what women face in Muslim countries. Is it all about oppression for women, or are they actually powerful contributors and builders to their societies? Something to think about!