Manal Rostom is a Dubai-based athlete from Alexandria, Egypt. She ran three International marathons including the Dubai Marathon, China Wall Marathon as well as several local ones in her hometown in Egypt.
Manal Rostom gained global attention when she became the first veiled Egyptian-Arab woman to be the face of Nike. More so, she aims to become the first Egyptian woman to complete all six major marathons and climb all seven major mountains summit. In addition, she hopes that hijabi models in sports campaigns will no longer be such a rare sight in the future.
Manal Rostom Background
Manal was born and raised in Kuwait. Her Arab-Egyptian parents do not wear or support her decision to be a hijabi. She began to wear a hijab at age 19 after surviving a near-fatal car accident. Manal started sports at a young age. At high school, she always admired older girls participating in after school sports.
Rostom began her academic pursuit at New English School, Kuwait. In 1996, she obtained an International General Certificate of Secondary School (IGCSE). Thereafter, she proceeded to Alexandria University where she bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2001.
In addition, Rostom trained as Advanced Instructor RPM, Sports and Exercise at Les Mills International from 2013-2015. Not only that, she equally trained as a Body Balance Group Instructor at the same school from
Also, she returned to Alexandria University to obtain Doctor of Pharmacy – PharmD, Pharmaceutical Sciences from 2004 until 2006.
Manal Rostom Career
Before venturing fully into sports, Manal worked with Clinical Product Specialist from June 2006 to December 2007. Thereafter, she proceeded to AstraZeneca where she worked for 9years and a month. During this period, she worked as a medical representative, executive medical representative, project lead, field sales trainer, and a medical science liaison personnel.
Manal Rostom began a motivational speaking career in January 2017. Since then, she has spoken at Facebook HQ, TedX, WACL London and Scotland, Grow by Facebook among others.
Currently, Manal works as Nike Trainer/Freelance Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer.
Basically, Surviving Hijab is a women-only Facebook community created by Manal Rostom in August 2014. Surviving Hijab is a strong group of hijab-wearing women that share their struggles, insecurities, and hardships, and support one another to hold on to their veil.
According to Manal, her passion for creating the group came from a very dark and desperate place. She was bullied by a society that was making her feel uncomfortable because of her personal choice to exercise her faith by covering up.
Today, the Facebook group is famous with over 600,000 members. The goal is to propel forward the inclusion of Muslim female athletes in sports around the world. Manal believes that young female athletes should step into their own crazy dreams, regardless of their dress mode.
In addition to that, in April 2018, Manal was invited to Facebook’s GMS conference where she got to exchange ideas with Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.
Manal Rostom Journey To Nike
In 2017, Nike launched its Nike Pro Hijab. Since then, the brand has been committed to raising the awareness of Muslim athletes all over the world. After creating the group, Manal had the voice and confidence to send a mail to Nike and other brands as well.
Fortunately, her email hit the right person at the right time and she landed her long-awaited dream. Manal Rostom became the first hijabi woman featured by Nike to promote its sports hijab.
Awards And Recognitions
Facebook Community Leadership Award of $50,000, 2018
One of Forbes Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women, 2020
Manal Rostom Quotes
“When I was younger, I experimented with other sports but I was either too short or didn’t have the right coach, until I found running. It was as if the sport chose me. I could train myself and work as hard as I needed to on my own. This became part of my identity and the track was no longer just a place for me to have an outlet for my energy. It was my independence. It became where I found peace, growth, and stability in difficult times.”
“The hijab never limited me, it is the fear that limits us.”
“It’s important for me to run because I’m not just running for myself. I’m running for all of the young, aspiring hijabi, female athletes that need
a role model.”
“I want young Arab girls to see that there are women who look like them, and dress like them that are chasing their crazy athletic dreams too.”
I love the way running makes me feel, it’s the most freeing feeling in the world and it just makes me feel invincible.”
“Running made me the confident woman that I am today. Now I know that no matter what barriers are in my way, I can always push past them with hard work and dedication.
“People can take anything from you but they can never take away your energy nor soul. They will marvel at your ability to keep on going against all odds.”
“Always remember, the universe has a way of leading you to where you are supposed to be, at the moment you are supposed to be there.”
“There will be loads of roadblocks, but if I can do it, you can.”
Business Lessons From The Life Of Manal Rostom
1. Be The Change You Want To See
Initially, Manal Rostom was ashamed of her faith and religion. This is because they were seen as uneducated and laid back. Rather than letting the perceived limitations to stop her, she took a bold step to change the narrative. She created the Surviving Hijab and the rest is history.
In business, no mountain is too hard to climb as long as you are willing to climb it. Be the change you want to see in your Industry.
2. Nothing Is Impossible
Who would have thought that a hijabi can become aNike Ambassador? This goes a long way to confirm that nothing is impossible.
Do you have a business idea that seems hard to achieve? Ideas that look difficult always makes a difference. Don’t give up on yourself or the idea, keep putting your best foot forward.
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