The vital role the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), organised by Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF), plays in promoting awareness of women’s participation in sport and developing the competitiveness of this sector in the Arab region has been highlighted by sport journalists and media representatives in recent times.
Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SWS,AWST was launched in 1997 as a biennial women’s sports tournament comprising of teams solely from the sixmember-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. From these humble beginnings, it has gradually evolved and grown in size and stature, developing into its present avatar in 2012, as a tournament encompassing world-class sportswomen and athletes from across the pan Arab region. Today, AWST can be said to be a true indicator of the progress of women’s sports nationally, regionally and around the Arab world.
Sports media professionals have written that the phenomenal growth of this tournament over the years exemplifies its commitment to providing a platform for women athletes to realise their aspirationsand reaffirms Sharjah’s role in nurturing and advancing women’s sports in the Arab world.
By furthering the cause of women’s sports in the region and beyond, AWST has grown to become an international competition platform, enabling high-calibre Emirati sportswomen to compete with their Arab counterparts, and together, they present a true image of the region’s sporting spirit to the world.
Biggest sporting event of-its-kind regionally
AWST has garnered praise from the most discerning critics. Jordanian sports journalist Lutfi Al Zu’bi said: “AWST is the largest pan-Arab sporting event dedicated to women, providing them with a unique space to thrive and build new friendships with their peers from different nationalities and cultures. It also serves as a bridge of communication between sportswomen of the Arab world, and a regional platform to showcase their athletic skills and turn their passion for the sports into success.”
He added: “The tournament has become popular not only among sportswomen, but also the sports media which craves to cover such high calibre and well organised events. I hope to see more editions of this event in all Arab countries with the addition of new games. It reflects the efforts of SWSF to engage talented female athletes in the tournament’s events and offer them the opportunity to increase their athletic performance”.
A global sporting event
With its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class services, the tournament has paved the way for local athletes to participate in various Arab and international sports events and contributed to the development of sports industry. It has developed into a platform for Emirati and Arab female athletes to hone their talents and physical fitness and concentrate on every sportsperson’s dream to become an international star competing in the Olympics.
Former Al Wasl Clubplayer, Bader Hareb said: “The tournament is an ideal platform for nurturing and empowering both Emirati and Arab women through sport. With the support of HH Sheikha Jawaher, the tournament has succeeded indiscovering very talented women athletes who have gone on to participate in the Olympics, as well as Asian and African championships.”
He added: “Sharjah provides women with a stimulating sporting environment in line with the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of His Wife, HH Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation.”
“The tournament has become a leading sporting platform for Emirati sportswomen to compete with their Arab counterparts and realise their potential at an event dedicated exclusively to women. Through its evolution froma local to regional, and now an international event, the biennial tournament has been attracting an increasing number of sportspersons to participate at every new edition, which serves to increase its profile globally.”
According to Farah Salem, xxxxxx: “AWST has developed into a landmark event for women. The tournament has taken great strides in empowering women in sport and attracting more players to participate in this leading event. The tournament reflects the UAE’s commitment to nurturing female athletes and bolster women’s sport at all levels. It also plays a key role in promoting the UAE and Sharjah as incubator of high-calibre players and top media representatives, and empowering women media professionals who are covering this event.”
She added that one of the attractions of the tournament was the keen coverage of it by the foreign media and the respect it has earned among international sports organisations.
“With the tournament’s nine Olympic sports, Sharjah Women’s Sports Foundation has proved again that they have the ability and professional management experience to organise a world-class sporting event that brings together players from across the Arab world and promotes Sharjah’s position as a leading hub for female athletes to thrive and achieve prestigious titles,” she concluded.