Amna is a leading inspirational figure and an expert on women’s sports and a mental health advocate from the Middle East. A self-made sport pioneer, her work has been recognized by prominent leaders, international media, and global brands. She is known for breaking the glass ceiling as an Olympic Weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who contributed to the country’s Rio 2016 Olympics Qualification. She is also the first Arab woman to compete in CrossFit Asia Regionals in 2012 while being a full-time journalist. Being a champion for change, she is often invited as a keynote speaker and panelist to discuss sports, mental health, women empowerment, resiliency, determination, and grit.
The Olympic Journey
Amna’s determination and courage in choosing and succeeding at an unconventional sport such as weightlifting, especially as an Arab Muslim woman from the UAE, makes her story unique and an inspiration. She played a key role in UAE’s 2016 Rio Olympics Qualification after less than four years of training. Though a late bloomer and picking up an Olympic sport at the age of 22, Amna persisted. Despite her efforts, a back injury side-lined her from competing at the Olympics. She was the First GCC and Arab woman to compete in the sport wearing the hijab. Prior to weightlifting, she made history as the first Arab and GCC National to have competed in the Reebok CrossFit Asia Regionals in 2012. She now campaigns for improving sports education and culture in the country.
In 2015, Amna became the first Emirati female individual athlete to be signed on by Nike. This partnership led to the creation of the revolutionary Nike Pro Hijab. Amna was not only the inspiration behind the product creation but was also consulted regarding the needs of Muslim female athletes during a historic visit to Nike’s HQ in Portland in 2016. The Nike Pro Hijab made it to TIME’s 25 Best inventions of 2017. Other notable achievements with Nike include Amna being featured in three Nike ad campaigns—Inner Strength Documentary Series, which for the first time featured a woman, Nike NTC+ Arabic App launch, and Better For it. Amna was also the first Arab to flag off Nike We Run Dubai 10K Race in 2015.
Inspiring the Next Generation
Amna was one of the 100 global inspirational women featured in the international bestseller Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Her incredible story as a weightlifter—the first female from the United Arab Emirates—earned her a spot in the book and in kid’s hearts. Amna has undertaken storytelling sessions for children across the Emirates and continues to partner with schools and educational institutions to encourage youth to take action toward their goals. Amna receives weekly messages and e-mails from parents and kids around the world because of her story’s impact on her little fans. She also meets with her little future champions in her spare time.
The Hope Creator
As an advocate of mental health, Amna spreads hope through all her activities. Having struggled with mental health, Amna talks of the importance of self-care, reaching out for help, and incorporating a holistic approach to heal. Her advocacy for the cause resulted in her being the first Emirati woman journalist to be awarded the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism in 2016 through Al Jalila Foundation, a not-for-profit organization established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai. Amna occasionally publishes op-ed articles on the subject and is invited as a keynote speaker to deliver powerful messages about turning pain into power.
Before pursuing Olympic weightlifting as a career, Amna worked as a full-time journalist for The National Newspaper in 2011. During that time, she secured the first exclusive interview with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hasher Al Maktoum, the only Emirati to win an Olympic gold medal. Her strong reporting on Emirati social issues also landed her three front-page articles. Amna covered several topics, including federal national council elections, Emiratization, wellbeing, and mental health issues to name a few. She has also published in Entrepreneur Middle East, Gulf News, Arabian Business, and Sport360 as a freelancer. In 2020, she was part of a collaborative book called The Possibilities Project, a free handbook aimed for youth as a guide in their career path and success. Amna graduated with a B.A. in mass communication, journalism, and a minor in psychology from the American University of Sharjah in 2010.
Accolades and Accomplishments
- Made the Muslim Women in Sport Network’s Top Muslim Women in Sports Power List, 2019
- Received the Social Contribution Award for Emirati Women’s Day, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, 2018
- Received the Top Emirati Sportswoman Award, 1st Emarat National Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, 2018
- Recognized at Dubai Mall’s pillars as one of the 100 women who received the Arab Woman Award in celebration of International Women’s Day, 2018
- Received the Arab Woman Award in the sports category, under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, 2016
- Received the Unstoppable Award as a Pioneer in Sports by the 1st Femina Middle East Woman Awards, 2016
- Received the prestigious Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health in Journalism, 2016
- Recognized as one of the top 50 inspirational women in the cover of Stylist Magazine, 2016
- Made Ahlan!’s Hot 100 list, 2014
- Received an Award of Recognition at the Arab Women Sports Tournament in Sharjah, 2012