Dubai, UAE: Shaikha Al Qassimi likes to practice what she preaches. Passionate about health and fitness, she is a popular role model for both men and women.
The Emirati hopes to spread the word about the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle.
“The importance of moving is much more than getting extremely fit,” said Ms Al Qassimi.
“Not everyone is motivated to get up every day and train. It’s about finding what you love and that, in itself, will help you.”
Having an impact on her community is the main reason Ms Al Qassimi signed up to be a “fitness ambassador” at the forthcoming Etisalat Fitness Festival, a three-day event involving educational workshops, classes and races aimed at the whole family.
“I wanted to be involved because this event is about getting people moving,” she said.
“The community, especially females, needs a local to represent them. Our lifestyles are not the best and you can see expatriates are more organised, they were brought up playing, running and eating healthily.
“Our food is not very healthy, so combine that with the little amount people move and it’s a bad combination.
“I want to be an inspiration for women, to break the barrier of thinking that they should just be at home or can only do certain types of training.”
It is important to involve the whole family in fitness events, said Ms Al Qassimi.
“You see these things like the Dubai Fitness Championships but you don’t see kids there with parents, aunts and uncles. This event is an opportunity for families to see how they can do things together.”
British expat Harriet Stewart will also take part in the festival as an ambassador. Dubbed the UAE’s fastest woman, she has an impressive 100-metre sprint time of fewer than 13 seconds, and will compete against some of best runners in the Emirates.
“It’s this sort of event that can introduce people to what fitness is,” she said. “It’s educational with awareness from nutrition to sports and wellness as well as activities. There’s so little focus on sport for children here that this is great, it brings the community together.”
The event, to be held at the Dubai Autodrome from November 5 to 7, will include competitions, races, an expo, classes and workshops.
“The whole family can compete, trying different things, learning something new, which can spur them into fitness if they aren’t already” focusing on it.
Abu Dhabi-based fitness instructor Jamie Greene said events such as this help to put fitness at the forefront of people’s attention.
“These kinds of events show the community what is out there, right in front of them and available to help change their lives,” said the New Zealander. “These events bring it a lot more into the public eye.
“If people can get to see how fitness and exercise has helped others, it may influence them to get involved themselves.”
© The NationalOct 2015