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22 May 2008 09:12 am

More woman athletes emerging in Qatar

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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The number of women competing in sport at the top level in Qatar has risen significantly in the 18 months since the 2006 Asian Games. In the 2006 Asian Games, there were 43 women in the Qatari national team. They competed in archery, chess, equestrian events, fencing, gymnastics, golf, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming and taekwondo. Recently, Qatar fielded a team of more than 20 women in the 11th GCC Shooting Tournament in Doha. The competition featured 277 shooters from the GCC countries, both men and women. Qatari shooter Mattarah Al Assiri clinched silver in the women's 50m individual event. On receiving her medal, Al Assiri said: "I am very happy with my results in the competition. I dedicate the medal to all my teammates on the Qatari women's national shooting team." Dr Anisa Al Hitmi, Qatar Olympic Committee's President for Women's Sports, who is on the Board of Directors for the Doha 2016 Bid, said: "Doha 2016 is an opportunity for unprecedented sports development in the Arab world and provides a unique opportunity for social development. The Olympic Games would bring positive social, economic and political changes to Qatar, as well as to the entire region. These changes would definitely include the further strengthening of the position of women in the society." Dr Al Hitmi holds a number of leadership positions at the national, regional and global level in the area of women's sport. She is a member of the Arab Football Association's Women's Football Committee and Vice President of the Women's Islamic Federation in Asia. Dr Al Hitmi was also a member of the FIFA Women's Football and Competition Committee from 2004-2007. "Qatari women compete at the highest levels. The importance of women practicing sport has widely increased in the Gulf region and especially within Qatar, which is considered as the place to be for sport. The Qatar Women Sports Committee provides young women with more opportunities to pursue their sporting interests at competitive levels," she said. Dr Al Hitmi added: "Sport has always celebrated inclusion and participation among cultures, nations and genders. The importance and social significance of women participating in sport in the Gulf region, especially in Qatar, cannot be overstated. Sport is providing new paths of excellence, pride and self expression for young women all across the region, and Qatar is at the forefront of this change." In addition to Dr Al Hitmi, two other women serve on the board of the Doha 2016 Bid: Professor Sheikha Abdulla Al Misnad, President of Qatar University, and Laila Hussain, a former shooter.