Nike introduces the
'Pro Hijab'
for Muslim Athletes

Article by Cia Mangat.

Photo: Nike. Pictured is Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari.
Nike will soon begin selling a performance hijab for Muslim athletes. The ‘Nike Pro Hijab’ will be launched in the spring of 2018 in response to the increasing number of Islamic women ‘embracing sport’.

The sportswear giant said that it was inspired to create the Pro Hijab by Saudi Arabian runner Sarah Attar, who competed in the 800m race at the 2012 Olympics wearing a hijab, and Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. When Al Haddad visited Nike’s sports research lab at their global headquarters in Oregon, she complained that she only had one hijab that was suitable for training, and that she had to wash it by hand in sinks in between competitions. In total, it took Nike thirteen months to create the Pro Hijab -  in a statement to Al Arabiya English, Nike said that ‘its impetus can be traced much further back, to an ongoing cultural shift that has seen more women than ever embracing sport’.
Photo: Streeter Lecka/ Getty Images. Sarah Attar competes in the 800-meter heat at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Nike Pro Hijab takes problems faced by many Muslim athletes directly into consideration, such as the weight and lack of breathability of a normal hijab. Made with Middle Eastern temperatures in mind - often soaring up to 55 degrees Celsius during the summer - the athletic hijab is crafted from a lightweight polyester that features minuscule holes for breathability, while still remaining opaque enough to fulfil religious requirements for hijab-wearing women. It’s also incredibly stretchy to eliminate the hijab’s potential to shift and chafe during exercise.

Photo: Nike. Zahra Lari figure skates while wearing the Nike Pro Hijab.

The hijab is already being worn by Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari, who said in a statement that she was ‘thrilled and a bit emotional’ to see Nike prototyping a hijab. The announcement of the Pro Hijab comes soon after Nike’s rather controversial advert in the Middle East: in the ad, Nike asks the viewer ‘what will they say about you?’, which is a question many women and girls in the Middle East are all too familiar with when trying to break gender norms in order to play sports. The advert went viral quickly, prompting a debate over its message.