By Sekka Team
Throughout the years, Oman has given birth to a parade of astounding female athletes, such as the well-known Omani tennis player Fatma Al Nabhani and Nadhira Al Harthy, the first Omani woman to successfully climb Mount Everest. Behind each of these women is no doubt a tale of hard work and perseverance, and these personal stories are precisely what HUN’na seeks to bring to light.
HUN’na — the feminine version of the word “them” in Arabic— is a community-centric online platform that was founded in September 2020 by Nooralhuda Al Manthari, an Omani athlete and adventurer, who wanted to document and share the stories of Omani female athletes. “Since the achievements of the women in sports and adventures in Oman are not showcased enough, and there are a number of hidden talents, this platform was established to focus on them, and get the Omani community, the Gulf, the Arab [region], and one day, the world, to know them,” she tells us.“There is so much talent in Oman and many active women in the field of sports and adventures, but not a lot of them are known and some are not present online. This online platform will give them the chance to speak freely, to share their hopes, dreams and achievements.”
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Working with her to achieve this ambitious goal are Wisal Al Rashdi, Nooralhuda’s partner in networking and collaborations who is also an Omani tour guide, Mohammed Al Gharibi, an Omani designer and content creator, and Muna Al Shidhani, an Omani photographer, fellow adventurer and athlete. Mohammad is the man behind the HUN’na’s fitting logo, which embodies the bright tricolor signs painted on mountain trails in the country that serve as a safety guidance to hikers and mountain climbers. Meanwhile, Muna is the woman behind the platform’s stunning brand photographs, which feature Nooralhuda in traditional Omani clothes combined with sneakers and various sports equipment. The photos are accompanied by a number of slogans, including “For the world to see you.”
Elaborating on the inspiration and meaning behind the photographs that artistically blend tradition and modernity, Nooralhuda says, “Omani women are extremely talented, and not present much on social media; they are both modern and traditional. Women in the past used to cross mountains wearing the traditional Omani dress as part of their daily lives… to access the simple necessities of life such as water and food. Therefore, the photos were inspired by the past and today’s modern women, who hike mountains out of passion, wearing hiking boots and using [trekking] poles.”
Since HUN’na’s establishment six months ago, the platform has used multimedia to document and share the stories and thoughts of tens of Omani women in the world of sports, including scuba diver Ehdaa Al Barwani, as well as Anisa Al Raisi, who became the first Omani woman to reach the North Pole in 2018, and Suhaila Al Kindi, who walked approximately 1,000 kilometers from Muscat to the Dhofar Governorate in the fall of 2020 to raise awareness about the importance of environmental preservation.
More recently, the team has also traveled to different areas within Muscat and wider Oman, to physically meet and uncover the stories of young female athletes there who play basketball, soccer, ride horses and partake in a variety of other sports. The visit to Dhofar in particular, in which an all-female hiking and trekking group consisting of 52 daughters, mothers and grandmothers was located by HUN’na, was a watershed moment for Nooralhuda. “We recently discovered the existence of many female athletes and adventurers around Oman in areas that no one knew existed, such as in the Governorate of Dhofar. This has made us realize the true meaning of HUN’na and the reason why we do what we do,” she excitedly shares with us.
Describing these trips, Nooralhuda says, “The local athletes are all very passionate and motivated; however, we have noticed a shortage in resources where it is most needed, especially for them to be able to progress in their fields. Also, in some remote areas other challenges are found, where female athletes are not the ‘norm,’ and therefore receive criticism just for choosing to play sports, or for joining national teams, and breaking traditional barriers.” However, their sports communities that are “motivational, encouraging, inclusive and transformational” have made all the difference for these rising female athletes. “We witnessed girls and women in different fields excelling in their field of sports, or adventures, merely by having moral support,” adds Nooralhuda.
What are the HUN’na team’s plans for the future? Nooralhuda states, speaking on behalf of herself and her collaborators, “Our long term goals include transforming HUN’na into a worldwide community organization that will serve many female athletes and adventurers across the Gulf. We will also have roles online and on the ground, through which more community hands on work will be done in collaboration with local organizations and the government.”
To find out more about HUN’na, click here.
The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.