The Oman Sail Women’s Sailing Programme was launched in 2011 to empower Omani women and create equal opportunities in the sport of sailing. The first step was to create a comfortable environment for girls wanting to learn and this was achieved by engaging their families and finding the right female instructors to teach Omani girls how to sail. The ultimate aim was to create a women’s team to represent Oman in international sailing competitions.
More than 150 women, aged between 18 and 35, from across the Sultanate applied for the first year of the programme. The top 30 women were chosen to be members of the inaugural group of trainees in the Oman Sail Women’s Programme and within a year, 21 had been awarded ISAF accredited sailing instructor certificates, which was acknowledged as an exceptional achievement.
The most promising of this new group of talented sailors have formed the first all-female sailing team in the region. The Women’s Sailing Programme has now become a template for other organisations in Oman and across the Arab world looking to open up opportunities for women. It has demonstrated that young Arab women can pursue their ambitions, be it in sport or in their careers, leading to much wider socio-economic benefits for the Sultanate.
- In February 2012, Oman Sail entered its first ever all female crew racing in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.
- In April 2012, 17 of the women qualified to become sailing instructors.
- In June 2012, the female youth squad competed in the Sailing GCC competition.
- In November 2013, Nashwa Al Kindi received the ISAF President Development Award, which recognized her outstanding achievements in the development of sailing in Oman.
- In November 2013, Raiya Al Habsi made history for sport in the region by becoming the first Arab woman to be nominated for the prestigious Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.
Oman Sail has recruited notable international female sailors as mentors and coaches for the Omani Women’s programme. These include Shirley Robertson OBE, the first British woman to win two sailing gold medals at consecutive Olympic Games, and Dee Caffari MBE, the first woman to sail single-handedly non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world three times.
By introducing young sailors to experienced role models, Oman Sail has developed a sustainable training programme that will help train female sailors to become star sailors themselves and mentor future Omani women’s teams.