Ruth Dickinson, Lamia Abdulaziz Khan and Khalid Al Awar during a press conference at the DSC headquarters on Sunday. Photographer: Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
DUBAI: Celebrating 50 glorious years of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai service to the nation, the Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge — the region’s first cycle race dedicated to women — will take place on April 19 inside the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve.
Taking place under the umbrella of Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and supported by DSC’s Women’s Sports Committee, the Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge is dedicated to Sheikh Mohammed for his unwavering support and empowerment of women and their role in all areas of society.
The 50km Challenge, which will take place on the Al Qudra Cycling Track, has also announced its support for Al Jalila Foundation’s pediatric programme Farah, which offers hope to children suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases.
The organisers will donate a percentage of all revenue from registrations and sponsorship toward the programme.
The details of the event were disclosed during a press conference on Sunday at the Dubai Sports Council headquarters in the presence of Lamia Abdulaziz Khan, a member of DSC’s Board of Directors and President of the Women’s Sports Committee at DSC, Khalid Al Awar, Director of the Sports Events Department at DSC, Event Director Ruth Dickinson, Dareen Barbar, Lebanese amputee athlete, Zahra Lari, Emirati figure skater and Salma Esmail, social media influencer from Egypt.
Khan said: “Empowering women in all spheres of life and providing them with an opportunity to practise sports and physical activity, and to compete in an atmosphere that confirms to the customs and traditions of the UAE is one of our strategic objectives and the Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge is an initiative that seeks to further those aims.
“Women in the UAE are keen for such opportunities and the amazing turnouts at the first and second editions of the Dubai Women’s Triathlon were a testimony to that. Now, we are pleased to offer them another first-of-its-kind event dedicated to women.
“As we celebrate the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, we encourage all women, from our wonderfully diverse segments of the society, to come out and participate in this very special event inside the idyllic Al Marmoom Desert Conservation and make it a day to remember.”
The Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge is open to women of all abilities and nationalities, Emirati and expatriates. Participants under the age of 18, however, will have to provide a consent letter from their parent or guardian.
Participants can register as individuals or teams. Individual categories will be divided into the following age groups; Under 13 years, 13-15 years, 16-19, 20-39, 40-49 and 50-plus. The team competition, meanwhile, will take place in three categories: Teams of four plus are encouraged in the kids, juniors and adults categories.
There are three distances offered: 10 kms for kids under 13 years, 20kms for juniors 13-15 years, 20 kms adults over 16 years and 50 kms for adults over 16 years. Trophies will be awarded to the top three in each category, all finishers will receive medals.
“Women’s cycling in Dubai and across the UAE is a fast growing sport and past time,” said Dickinson.
“The excellent facilities and easy access to cycle tracks have encouraged women and girls to take up cycling competitively and socially in a safe environment.
“We want to encourage women and girls of all abilities to join the challenge. Come to compete, or come for fun and a great experience. Come to support Al Jalila Foundation and their valuable work helping children and their families.”
Dickinson added that the Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge seeks to promote a physically active lifestyle and the health benefits of cycling as an activity for women and girls.
The organisers are expecting over 200 women cyclists to confirm by the time the registrations for the event closes on April 17.
Last year, Women’s Sports Committee of the Dubai Sports Council in association with the Dubai Ladies Club hosted the second edition of the women-only triathlon, which attracted 324 participants of different age and nationalities, including People of Determination and 121 Emiratis.
“Organising such events for women is really important because the importance of sports and physical activity cannot be understated. It is crucial for the health, happiness and wellbeing of our society,” said Awar.
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