Twenty-one Omani women have become the first to be accredited professional sailors, newspapers reported on Monday.
The women, aged between 18 and 35, completed the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) accredited instructors assessment program, the Dubai-based Gulf News reported.
The women were selected from 150 applicants and did not know how to swim or sail when they joined Oman Sail Women’s program that was launched seven months ago.
Amal al-Braiki al-Tobi, member of Oman Sail Women’s National Sailing Team, told Khaleej Times that it was a proud day for everyone in her family.
“The program has been tough but it is fantastic. At the beginning I was a bit hesitant about whether I would be able to do this, but now, every day I am learning something new and the hesitation is gone.
“We have been given such an amazing opportunity by our beloved country and His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, we will continue to take up challenges, learn and work hard to make Oman proud,” she added.
The newly accredited female sailing instructors will be fully employed at Oman Sail Sailing schools around the country to pass their skills to a new generation of youngsters.
Oman Sail’s CEO David Graham said in a press statement that the program aims “to create a new generation of women sailors, to create job opportunities and to contribute to the development of women’s sports in Oman.”
“Not only have they qualified to inspire and coach a new generation of young Omani women sailors and earned their place in the Oman Sail Women’s National Sailing Team, but back in January the team finished fourth in the 2012 edition of Sailing Arabia – The Tour, as part of Oman’s first ever all-female offshore sailing team, quite an achievement in itself,” Graham added.
The competitive program hopes to new reach heights by seeking the qualification of Omani women at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Omani activists and prominent female figures also hailed the pioneering achievement of the new sailors.
Oman’s first female horse-rider and the first woman to obtain a certificate as commercial pilot, Najia al-Muawali, told the paper “this is an honor for Omani women.”