While she was expected to become a businesswoman, married with children, Maryam al-Subaiey, has defied expectation and tradition to pursue her “dream” of racing horses and became the first female Qatari jockey.
« I don’t have to do things that society expects from me as a woman,” she told AFP. “But being a female athlete, this is not something that is considered Qatari, » she adds. Last February, this young athlete participated in a race called » Thoroughbred Handicap » at Qatar’s pastoral Racing and Equestrian Club. She crossed the finish line by positioning herself in 11th place out of 14. But more notable than her final position was the fact she competed at all.
Last year, Maryam appeared on France 24 Arabic television to discuss how Qatari women view their role in society. But on the screen, Maryam appears without a headscarf, stirring a backlash at the time. On the social networks, one commenter called her « a bad example » for Qatari women. Another more vehement poster wrote: « Education is no good if it results in disobeying God’s orders. » Still, not enough to stop this jockey who, on her side, claims her freedom to choose the way she dresses.
Upon her return to Qatar, Maryam continues her training, but in March, she fell from her horse, sustaining severe injuries, including a double fracture to her pelvis. The young woman does not intend to stop her career, however, « If anything, more than ever before, I have something to prove. »