Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Nike Introduces The Pro Hijab For Female Muslim Athletes

Nike Introduces The Pro Hijab For Female Muslim Athletes

The Pro Hijab will hit Nike Middle Eastern stores in early 2018, the company reports in a Tuesday, March 7 news release, and has been in the works for more than a year.

In a statement, Nike said: "By providing Muslim athletes with the most groundbreaking products, like the Nike Pro Hijab, Nike aims to serve today's pioneers as well as inspire even more women and girls in the region who still face barriers and limited access to sport".

Many women see Nike's announcement as a victory for Muslim female athletes all over the world. In addition, Nike wields a great deal of influence in sports, which is important at a time when not all sports allow women to compete in hijabs.

Speaking with Al Arabiya English, Nike global spokeswoman Megan Saalfeld explained how the idea for the high-performance headwear came about.

Nike worked on the Pro Hijab design for 13 months, after feedback from Muslim athletes suggesting a sleeker, easier design would help performance. Nike has signaled a clear eye toward an expanding market for female Muslim athletes. The athletic wear hijab is a single layer of lightweight polyester, made specifically so it's breathable but also remains opaque, which is a requirement for hijab-wearing women.

Nike launched the Pro Hijab following a commercial featuring Muslim athletes from around the world, like the first Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari, Tunisian fencer and Olympics medalist Ines Boubakri, Emirati Parkour trainer Amal Mourad, Saudi singer Balqees Fathi and Jordanian boxer Arifa Bseiso. Conversely, the presence of such a ban serves to limit participation, as it did in 2011, when a Federation Internationale de Football Association official denied the Iranian women's national team entry onto the pitch for an Olympic qualifier because they were wearing hijabs.

This news is also timely not just because of the equality ad released in the United States, but also another controversial equality ad Nike released in the Middle East a couple of weeks ago.

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