“Ice Princess” of the United Arab Emirates

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Zahra Lari, the first Emirati figure skater, dubbed as the “Ice Princess” of the United Arab Emirates, has gracefully glided and jumped over obstacles put forward by her own community. “People thought it’s dancing. In front of men, that is not acceptable. I am covered, I am Muslim, I am from a desert country, but I am doing a winter sport and it’s fine,” says Lari. She is shattering not only the gender norms within her country but also disrupting the Western perception of Arab women. The 21-year-old from Abu Dhabi now has her heart set on a bigger dream — the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. While the UAE has participated in the Summer Olympics, the hot, humid country has reportedly never had an athlete represent it in the winter games. In 2013, the UAE became part of the International Skating Union, paving the way for Lari to participate in major international competitions. “I wish for all young women to find their passion. To be concerned for their health and well being. To take up sport. To not let small obstacles look like mountains. To strive for their own betterment and to not see the differences in people but to only see the likenesses. This is my wish for all,” she says.

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