Photos: Female Arab Athletes On The Rise

Reply Fri 27 Jul, 2012 10:42 am
Photos: Female Arab Athletes On The Rise
July 27, 2012
by Claire O'Neill - NPR

The Olympics have come a long way since the days of scantily clad Greek men throwing javelins. It wasn't until 1900 that women competed for the first time. And for the first time ever this year, Saudi Arabia is allowing women to compete in the Olympics. (Though even that's complicated.)

Photos hang at the opening of Hey'Ya Arab Women In Sport by Brigitte and Marian Lacombe at Sotheby's auction house in London.

Capturing the zeitgeist, Brigitte Lacombe was commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority to photograph about 80 female athletes from 20 Arab countries. Her series, Hey'Ya: Arab Women in Sport, is currently on display at Sotheby's auction house in London. (Hey'Ya translates roughly from colloquial Arabic to "let's go.") The photos also recently comprised the cover story of Financial Times magazine.

Not all the women in these photographs are going to the Olympics, but a few are; according to the exhibit literature, Lacombe wanted to photograph athletes at all levels, like the Jeddah Green Team, a women's basketball team in Saudi Arabia that is not allowed to practice publicly. She also photographed Woroud Sawalha, a runner from Palestine who qualified for the Olympics this year but didn't have an actual track to train on.

In the introduction to a forthcoming book about the photographs, Gina Alhadeff describes a photo of Ali'a Madani, a weightlifter from Sudan: "If I had to choose an emblem for the whole series, for the project of portraying not just the rigors of the sports, but also the happy endings awaiting women who want to practice them ... this would be it: the weight is off her shoulders. She can play now."

More about this series, including video portraits by the photographer's sister, Marian Lacombe, can be found in this feature article in Financial Times magazine.



Ali'a Madani, weightlifting, Sudan
Brigitte Lacombe

Bahya Mansour Al-Hamad, shooting, Qatar
Brigitte Lacombe

Amal Mohammad Awad, basketball, Qatar
Brigitte Lacombe

Sudanese track and field team
Brigitte Lacombe

Dana Hussain, track and field, Iraq
Brigitte Lacombe

Fatma Al Nabhani, tennis, Oman
Brigitte Lacombe

Feta Ahamada, track and field, Comoros
Brigitte Lacombe

Miriam Hussein, basketball, Somalia
Brigitte Lacombe

Olla Mourad, tennis, Qatar
Brigitte Lacombe

Miriam Al Suwaidi and Fatma Al Suwaidi, handball, Qatar
Brigitte Lacombe

Retag Asaiah, discus, Libya
Brigitte Lacombe

Sarra Besbes, fencing, Tunisia
Brigitte Lacombe

Woroud Sawalha, track and field, Palestine
Brigitte Lacombe
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