Nike set to launch the ‘Pro Hijab’ for female Muslim athletes

Female Muslim athletes will finally have global representation for their athletic sportswear after Nike announced it is launching the Nike Pro Hijab.

A source from Nike confirmed the recent viral video campaign that featured female Middle Eastern athletes entitled “What will they say about you?”

was a precursor for the launch of the new Nike Pro Hijab line, which will go on sale in Spring 2018.

“The Nike Pro Hijab may have been more than a year in the making, but its impetus can be traced much further back, to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport,” a statement from Nike read.

“This movement first permeated international consciousness in 2012, when a hijabi runner took the global stage in London,” the statement added.

The runner Nike refers to is Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Attar, who competed 800m heats at the London Olympics. Before her, Bahraini sprinter Ruqaya al-Ghasra also competed, while wearing a hijab, during the Athens Olympics in 2004 and in Beijing four years later.

“The Nike Pro Hijab was designed as a direct result of our athletes telling us they needed this product to perform better, and we hope that it will help athletes around the world do just that,” Global Nike Spokeswoman Megan Saalfeld told Al Arabiya English.

Saalfeld said the concept of launching an athletic hijab came after female Emirati Olympic weightlifting athlete Amna Al Haddad visited Nike’s sport research lab at their global headquarters in Oregon.

Haddad complained that she only had one hijab that worked for her, and that she had to wash it by-hand each night in the sink during competitions.

“From there, we worked with Amna and a variety of other athletes to see what they needed and wanted in a performance hijab. What we heard was that women were looking for a lightweight and breathable solution that would stay in place without concern of shifting,” Saalfeld told Al Arabiya English.

Designing the Nike Pro Hijab

The problem for many women in the Middle East region, is participation in sports goes beyond conservate values and religion. Summer temperatures in the Gulf Arab region can reach a searing 55 degrees Celsius.

“We live in the hottest countries in the world so covering the neck area specifically is always going to be a challenge. For many women, running more than 3K in the heat is almost suffocating,” Rostom, who has run marathons and climbed mountains, said.

This problem was noticed by Nike, who designed their first hijab for athletes using a mesh material, considered as their most breathable fabric. The lightweight polyester features tiny, strategically placed holes for optimal breathability.

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