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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

'I'm lazy, I'm weak': Saudi women combat stereotypes in new fitness campaign

Yes, it's an ad, but it's one with a powerful message

Raha Moharrak in a moment from the campaign. Photo: Supplied
Raha Moharrak in a moment from the campaign. Photo: Supplied

A new campaign for adidas running shoes features three Saudi Arabian athletes, with the women talking about "climbing over every barrier laid out in front of" them, and reel off some of the stereotypes that are dumped on them, including being "weak" and having "no ambition".

The ad for Ultraboost trainers features fitness instructor and modest sportswear designer Lojain Alrefae running along the waterfront in Jeddah; Saudi mountaineer Raha Moharrak climbing the rocky ranges near Jeddah and football campaigner Saja Kamal kicking a ball around in the heritage area of the coastal city.

The whole sentiment of the ad can be summed up in one moment: "The girl after me won't have to fight to be the first," Moharrak says while scaling a rocky hill in the video. "She'll fight to be the best."

Speaking to The National last year, Moharrak - who has scaled the seven highest peaks in each continent - said she wanted people to know what she was capable of, as a woman from Saudi Arabia: "I'm an average, simple girl. I was born in Jeddah, I was born in the sand, yet I managed to touch the sky. Don't tell me that we are not capable of wonders, don't tell me that we are less capable than other people.

"The expectations of what I should and shouldn’t be as a woman is a heavy weight to carry, but with time I have learned to not let anything limit me and to be the strongest version of myself,” says Alrefae of the campaign. “Doing this with Adidas in my home city, and being filmed on the running strip of the Jeddah Corniche, could not make me more proud of who I am and where I’m from.

Updated: March 9, 2019 03:55 PM

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