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Why Catering To Muslim Women Could Be A 'Lucrative' Move For UK Gyms

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 October 2020

 • Faiza Heidar Becomes First Woman To Coach A Men's Pro Team In Egypt

• Dr. Sarah Al-Otaibi:  A Saudi Woman Wins Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the GCC Level

• Saudi Arabia Appoints 100 Legally Qualified Women As Notary Public

• More Saudi Women Seeking To Specialize In Cybersecurity, Say Experts

• Saudi Women Complete Doping Control Training Course

• There’s No Limit To What Iranian Women Can Do: Farmani

• Saudi Female Lawyers Praise Justice Ministry’s Efforts To Empower Women

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Why Catering To Muslim Women Could Be A 'Lucrative' Move For UK Gyms

27 Oct 2020


“There is a growing awareness of fitness across the board and this trends filters into the Muslim community,” she told Arabian Business.


As coronavirus continues to weigh on Britain, there has been a dramatic surge in demand for Muslim personal trainers and gyms.

Personal trainers across London have noted rising demand among Muslim women as they seek to work out ‘modestly’ with other females in comfortable spaces that respect their faith.

Britain’s first gym for Muslim women opened in Cardiff, South Wales in 2016, kicking off a growing countrywide trend towards specialised faith-conscious gyms and personal trainers.

According to Sport England, only 18 percent of Muslim women take part in sports, compared to 30 percent of the total female population.

And five years before, the figures were as low as 12 percent – indicating a rise in Muslim women taking up sport and fitness.

Dr Aishah Muhammad, an NHS pediatrician by day, says it was seeing Muslim women under-represented in the world of fitness that propelled her to enter the field of personal training.

“There is a growing awareness of fitness across the board and this trends filters into the Muslim community,” she told Arabian Business.

The UK’s Muslim-powered economy is on a rapid-growth trajectory, creating opportunities for brands and services throughout the country.

Official government figures for 2018/19 show that there are 3,194,791 Muslims living in England. London alone is home to nearly 1.26 million Muslims, making up 14.2 percent of the capital's population.

According to Muhammad, who is Leicester and London-based, the demand for Muslim female trainers stems from “a human need to connect to and relate to people who share similar identities and values".

“In the fitness industry, the adverts tend to focus on skinny and Caucasian stereotypes,” she said. “This is something that some Muslim women might not resonate with so they gravitate towards other Muslim women.”

She also said there is a rising trend of mainstream gyms creating women-only areas in high Muslim population areas. “There is a such a big and growing demand. Even mainstream gyms such as Pure Gym and Fitness First have seen that it’s lucrative.”

According to East London-based boxer turned personal trainer Nazia Khutan (pictured above), the coronavirus pandemic has notably fuelled demand from her clientele – which is 99 percent Muslim women.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, a lot of people have realised how important fitness is and they want to improve their immune systems,” she said. “Fitness also helps people protect their mental health in this challenging time.”

Bangladeshi Muslim Khutan has spent the past four years fine-tuning what she says is a revolutionary fitness programme for women.

“Right now, with the rise of gyms everywhere, there needs to be places where Muslim women actually feel comfortable and get their needs met – from how they train in the gym and to what they can wear. Everything needs to be considered.”

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Muhammad said that the British fitness industry needs to be aware that "not everyone has the same values".

She added that Muslim women often have a preference for female-only spaces because this means they can remove modest apparel items that could be restrictive or uncomfortable when exercising.

Muhammad also said that some Muslim woman prefer to exercise without music as "they might not like it or be used to it".

The physical activity market is worth more than $800 billion worldwide, but it has had to pivot fast as countries around the world impose strict lockdown measures. Fitness experts expect future workouts to be a mixture of in-person and online classes, while studio apps are hoping for more corporate sign-ups.

“I don’t think it’s just Muslim women who feel more comfortable in female-only spaces. A lot of women don’t want to feel like they are putting on a show for someone. Being in a female-only spaces can be comforting and allow for experimentation and trying out different things.”

Khutan believes there is a “100 percent upwards trend” towards the proliferation of Muslim trainers.

“The trend began years ago but now there is a shortage of Muslim personal trainers out there,” she said. “We need to encourage young women to take this as a career path. It’s a bit out of the norm but it’s really needed.”

Mike Harley, owner of F45 Vauxhall and F45 Milton Keynes fitness communities, told Arabian Business that his gyms have had “a number of enquiries” from Muslim women asking for female-only and female-led classes.

“We see a clear desire for a different type of culture within gyms. The F45 motto is ‘no treadmills, no mirrors, no egos’ and this resonates particularly strongly with our female gym-goers who have been put off by the more macho, traditional gym culture, with predominantly male trainers,” said Harley.

“The lack of mirrors reflects a need to workout without the primary motivation being vanity and instead simply enjoying the physical and mental health benefits of workouts.”

Harley has yet to put on special female-only classes as F45 membership is already 65 percent female and its trainers are over 80 percent female.

“This ratio – and the culture we have created – has tended to be enough to satisfy most female and Muslim members. However, we remain open to the idea and may trial a female-only class in early 2021.”

According to Rafi-uddin Shikoh, managing director and CEO of research firm Dinar Standard, some UK-based fitness brands already have "strong GCC experience” with separate women-only gyms, such as Fitness First.

“Perhaps this experience, coupled with the growing UK Muslim middle-class, is enabling differentiated offerings – not only for Muslim women but other women who may prefer cross-cultural privacy considerations,” he said.

Five things we learned

Personal trainers across London have noted rising demand among Muslim women

Only 18 percent of British Muslim women take part in sports, compared to 30 percent of the total female population.

London is home to nearly 1.26 million Muslims, making up 14.2 percent of the capital's population.

There is a trend towards mainstream gyms in the UK creating women-only areas in high Muslim population areas

Muslim women often have a preference for female-only spaces because this means they can remove modest apparel items that could be restrictive or uncomfortable when exercising


Faiza Heidar Becomes First Woman To Coach A Men's Pro Team In Egypt

Oct 26, 2020


Faiza Haider is the first Egyptian coach - male or female - to gain the Premier Skills Coach Educator status, certified by England's Premier League.   -  REUTERS


GIZA (Egypt): Faiza Heidar grew up playing soccer in the streets with the boys and went on to captain Egypt's national women's team. Now she has become the first woman to train one of the country's professional men's clubs.

Heidar has been signed up by the fourth division side Ideal Goldi, based in Giza.

"There is usually some mockery at the beginning," the 36-year-old told Reuters.

"But then they realise that they will learn something, that they will develop their skills."

She said she was the first Egyptian coach - male or female - to gain the Premier Skills Coach Educator status, certified by England's Premier League.

Soccer remains an overwhelmingly male sport in Egypt.

"I would tell her not to go. She would say: 'No, I will go.' She loved the sport," said Heidar's mother, Khodra Abdelrahman.

"I let her go and prayed that God help her. And she did go, and she has done so well."


Dr. Sarah Al-Otaibi:  A Saudi Woman Wins Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the GCC Level

October 26, 2020


Dr. Sarah Al-Otaibi. (Twitter/IPAConnect)


RIYADH: Dr. Sarah Al-Otaibi, director of the Women’s Makkah branch of Public Administration, on Monday won the Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the Gulf Cooperation Council level.

It was announced during the GOV HR Summit held in Dubai. Al-Otaibi attributed her success to the “unlimited support” of the Saudi leadership.

This year’s event focused on women empowerment and youth. The summit offers a regional platform for experts in different fields to share insights on the challenges faced by people in the management sector.

It is a vital platform in realizing and upholding the regions’ vision of putting people first. It brings together HR leaders and decision makers from leading public and private sector organizations to discuss different issues and suggest out-of-the-box solutions.

The awards aim to highlight, honor and celebrate achievements of public and private sector organizations and individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership through human capital management and strategic planning.


Saudi Arabia appoints 100 legally qualified women as notary public

27 Oct, 2020

A total of 100 legally qualified women in Saudi Arabia will be appointed as notary public, local media reported citing directives issued by Minister of Justice Sheikh Walid Al Samaani.

The notaries will formally start their work from next Sunday, Nov. 1, with joining a three-month specialized training program, the ministry of justice said.

The program will be organized in cooperation with the Justice Training Center. They will also be provided with practical training at the ministry’s Agency for Documentation and Notaries.

The ministry said that the training program for female notary public includes many theoretical and practical sessions, including acquisition of skills in the tasks, specializations and procedures of documentation in accordance with the judicial system.

The training would also cover modern technologies related to documentation work.

The ministry’s initiatives comes as part of further expanding empowerment of women in the justice sector by facilitating judicial services for women with an enhanced role in the documentation area.

The ministry recently appointed many qualified women in the fields of law, Shariah, sociology, administration and technology in the ministry for the first time.


More Saudi Women Seeking To Specialize In Cybersecurity, Say Experts


October 27, 2020

JEDDAH: More Saudi women want to specialize in cybersecurity as it becomes one of the Kingdom’s most in-demand sectors, according to experts.

Cloud security engineer at Farmers Insurance Co., Dalal Al-Harthi, created an all-female cybersecurity bootcamp that lasted three months and took place from mid-June to mid-September.

She tweeted an announcement on April 19, asking women who were interested in learning about cybersecurity to apply for a bootcamp place. More than 3,000 applied before the registration deadline.

“I was very happy and encouraged to see this enthusiasm toward learning and that many women were interested in being part of this bootcamp, so I decided to accept as many applicants as I could,” she told Arab News.

Al-Harthi is a doctoral candidate in the US although her trainees are mostly in Saudi Arabia. She taught trainees about all cybersecurity fields and areas including Linux Commands, Python Programming, Cloud Security, Network Security, Incident Response, Digital Forensics, SIEMs, Ethical Hacking – Penetration Testing, Cryptography, and CompTIA Security+.

“I designed it to be 20 percent theoretical knowledge and 80 percent hands-on practice on several cybersecurity tools and platforms such as AWS, Snort, Wireshark, PyCharm, Kleopatra, OpenSSL, MySQL, DVWA, BurpSuite, HTML, Splunk, Autopsy, John the Ripper, as well as working on Virtual Machines: Kali Linux, Tiny Core, Ubuntu, Metasploitable2, Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, and Raven.”

In addition to improving trainees’ cybersecurity knowledge and experience, she focused on how to get them employer-ready by enriching their resumes and polishing their interview skills.

Al-Harthi told El-Ekhbariya in a TV interview that the shortage in female cybersecurity specialists was not restricted to the Kingdom. It was a global issue and the field had a gender problem. “By the end of 2019, women represented 20 percent of the cybersecurity workforce globally.”

She said she was “extremely passionate” about empowering Saudi women and pushing for more women in cybersecurity in particular to up female representation to 50 percent.

“This bootcamp is one of the steps that I took toward achieving that. I have absolute confidence that the trainees in my bootcamp will help share the knowledge that they gained to support other women in the field.”

The bootcamp was held virtually through the Classera platform, and specialists created it free of charge to support and empower women who were interested in learning about and working in the cybersecurity field.

Muhammad Khurram Khan, professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University and founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research in Washington D.C., said that Saudi women were showing high levels of success in several fields and professions.

“They are also outperforming male counterparts by their passion and enthusiasm for higher studies and research,” he told Arab News. “Recently, a great surge of Saudi women in information and communications technology has been observed, especially with a particular interest in the cybersecurity field. This interest is getting momentum due to the recently launched initiative of the National Cybersecurity Authority to support and encourage women to participate in the cybersecurity profession.”

He said that Saudi female students at local universities were taking part in cybersecurity research, projects, professional certifications, and securing top positions in the “Capture the Flag” hacking competitions.

“They have also published a number of high-impact research publications in top international journals and conferences, which is indeed commendable. This all shows their great potential, professionalism, and talent in the cybersecurity field, which would ultimately contribute to protecting the Kingdom’s cyber assets from adversaries.”

The professor added that universities and institutions needed to launch programs to attract female students and professionals to the cybersecurity field to overcome their under-representation and under-utilization in the industry.

“The global shortage of a skilled cybersecurity workforce is a rising challenge and we all have to play our role to overcome it as a shared responsibility. To strengthen the cybersecurity skills of Saudi female students and professionals, public and private sector organizations should come forward to set up cybersecurity hands-on training courses, launch cybersecurity incubators and accelerators, and commence guidance and counseling programs.”


Saudi women complete doping control training course

October 26, 2020

JEDDAH: A group of Saudi women received their doping control officer certificates on Monday from the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee vice president, Prince Fahad bin Jalawi, and the director of sports and federations relations, Princess Dilayel bint Nahar.

The ceremony was held after the 30 trainees successfully completed the first womens’ doping control officer training course. It was organized by the Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee (SAADC) under the supervision of its president, Dr. Mohammed Salih Alqunbaz, and its secretary-general, Abdulaziz Almsaad, at Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex.

The three-day workshop covered the main areas of detection, awareness, and training. It also included written and practical exams to obtain the certificate.

According to SAADC officials, doping control officers play a crucial role and have a great responsibility in ensuring the success of sporting events at all levels.

Prince Fahad thanked the trainees for their commitment and progress in obtaining their certificates and wished them every success in their mission. “We are proud of our Saudi women and what they are achieving in this field of sports, including at SAADC,” he said.

He thanked the SAADC for its contribution to improving the Kingdom’s capacity to carry out doping control tasks and maintaining a clean and safe sports environment.


There’s no limit to what Iranian women can do: Farmani

October 26, 2020

Farmani joined the Belgian top-flight football club from Iran’s Malavan in August.

She is the wife of Iran international Ali Gholizadeh. They are the first Iranian couple to play at a European based football team.

“I started football since I was 12 and joined Iran U14 football team one year later. Since then, I’ve played at all age levels for Iran,” Farmani said in an interview with Iran’s Football Federation’s website.

“In my opinion, there is no limit to what the Iranian women football players can do and they must keep progressing. From the bottom of my heart, I wish the Iranian talented players all the best and I hope they shine at the world level,” she added.

Farmani is optimistic about his future in the Belgian football, saying “Joining a team from Belgium was a great opportunity for me. I hope I can earn more success in the future. Fortunately, Ali is always encouraging and advising me and it helps me keep moving forward,” Farmani concluded.


Saudi female lawyers praise Justice Ministry’s efforts to empower women


October 27, 2020

JEDDAH: Several Saudi female lawyers have praised the Justice Ministry’s decision to appoint 100 female notaries as a step forward for women’s legal empowerment.

“We appreciate Justice Minister Walid Al-Samani’s … rapid steps toward empowering women to work in all available jobs, considering them viable components of society, particularly in the justice sector,” lawyer Njnood Qasim told Arab News.

She added: “We hope that it will be the beginning of an important and most anticipated step, which is the appointment of a Saudi woman as a judge.”

Qasim noted that many qualified women have been recruited by the Justice Ministry for the first time in history to work in the fields of law, Shariah, sociology, administration and technology.

Lawyer Rana Al-Daknan, meanwhile, said she thought women could fill any role in society. “An ambassador, an undersecretary, a minister, but I think no woman should be a minister before women become judges,” she told Arab News.

Compared to the previous status of women at the Justice Ministry, Al-Daknan said this latest step was a significant achievement, but added: “Of course we are looking for more, though that does not mean we should not appreciate this step.”

Al-Daknan explained that women first began obtaining notary licenses in 2018, and the services they offer include documentation, transferring property, authorizing powers of attorney submissions and other services.

“The next step for women is working with conciliation committees, which is known in other countries as being a magistrate. Thankfully it is possible now for both men and women to obtain conciliation licenses, where they will assume the role of the judge,” Al-Daknan said. “I personally have applied and (am) in the process to obtain this license.”

Another lawyer, Abrar Shaket, told Arab News that this move was the natural result of the Kingdom’s steps to empower its female citizens under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



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