To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re championing some of the most inspirational females to watch.

March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a 24-hour event which celebrates the achievements of women around the world.

So, we’re here to do just that.

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We’re highlighting some of the successes of the females of the region; women who are making great strides—and headlines—in their industries.

 

From barrier-breaking actresses to students with sky-high ambitions, here are the remarkable stories of four women to watch, captured in a series shot on the iPhone.

Ahd Kamel

Ahd Kamel

She wowed in acclaimed 2012 film Wadjda, and this Saudi Arabian actress will be getting plenty more screen time in 2018 thanks to her role in an upcoming Netflix drama.

Kamel will star in Collateral, a thriller co-produced by the BBC, alongside Oscar winner Carey Mulligan, John Simm and Billie Piper.

However the Jeddah-raised actress fell into the industry by chance, she reveals.

“It all started by chance. In 2004 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in animation and communication design but I knew then that I didn’t want to be an animator,” Kamel sys.

“I also wasn’t ready to move back to Saudi Arabia. So instead I enrolled in film school and it was love at first sight. I always say that cinema found me, not the other way around.”

Ahd Kamel

The actress, who cites her biggest achievement to date as landing the role of Fatima in Collateral, as well as being nominated for the Golden Bear award for the short film Sanctity, also directs and writes.

“I began working on short films, be it acting, directing, producing, whatever I could do to learn and bring a story to life,” she says on breaking into the industry.

“I was fortunate that the films I worked on were screened and recognised at international film festivals. That opened many doors for me.”

One of Kamel’s greatest inspirations is her grandmother, Sarah, whose age the family don’t know but “like a tree she’s been around and seen it all”.

Ahd Kamel

“After my grandfather’s passing she started an atelier for women and introduced her arts and crafts to Jeddah’s social scene,” she says.

“She may have been petite, 4’8” in fact, but she is packed with potent power and raised me to be the same.”

Kamel will be celebrating International Women’s Day all year round, she adds, as it “reminds us of our accomplishments which we should actually celebrate on a daily basis”.

“I like to be the change I want to see, and that’s the most empowering way to support women.

“By continuing to do what I do and following my heart, I hope to lead by example.”

Fatma Al Nabhani

Fatma Alnabhani

This professional tennis player from Oman knew the sport was her future from a young age.

“All I knew since I was a little kid that this game runs in my blood,” she says.

“No one forced me to play tennis, I just fell in love with it. I never knew that I might be able to take it on professionally but I was dedicated for the love of the game. Doing anything else was just never an option for me.”

The 26-year-old may have four singles and four doubles titles on the ITF tour to her name, but she admits it wasn’t easy to break into the industry at first.

“When I was growing up, the notion of an Arab girl aspiring to be a professional athlete was unheard of. Practice after practice and game victory after the next, perceptions slowly started to shift in favour of me taking on the sport professionally,” Al Nabhani says.

Fatma Alnabhani

“Today, the Middle East is not only accepting, but also supportive its female athletes.”

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Al Nabhani says she’s heartened by the stories of “fearless Arab women who are an inspiration to their families, friends, and country”.

“These women have taught me and the upcoming generation to be bold and transform difficulties to opportunities that need to be tackled. It is empowering.”

Mezna Alameri

Mezna Alameri

This Emirati teen is a jack of all trades; a rising star in both the art of poetry and horseback riding.

She cites HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s work as an inspiration for her own writing, and even read her poetry to the ruler of Dubai last year during an endurance ride.

“I discovered my passion for Arabic poetry when I was only seven years old. Listening to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum poetry planted a seed within me and inspired me to follow that path” she says.

“My passion for poetry then led me to the equestrian sport. And now, I write and give poetry readings for the love of both, arts and sports.”

Mezna Alameri

The 13-year-old will be celebrating her mother this International Women’s Day, as she’s “my pillar of strength and motivation”.

“She is my No 1 fan and I am hers,” Alameri says.

“I would also like to reflect on the choices I’ve made to make sure I am also setting a good example for the young Arab girls who are inspired by my journey.

“To them I say, believe in yourself, stay brave and work hard to become the best version of yourself so you can be a positive role model for other women and the wider society you live in.”

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Dana Al Blooshi

Dana Alblooshi

She was just nine years old when she first made headlines back in 2015, as the youngest astronaut trained at NASA.

The whiz kid, who holds a number of certificates in the fields of aeronautics and space administration from the US-founded agency, dreams of becoming the first and youngest Emirati space traveller.

“I remember watching documentaries about space with such awe and curiosity. I’m very lucky to have found my dream and pursued it at an early age,” she says.

Dana Alblooshi

Al Blooshi, who has months of training at NASA under her belt, says her mother has helped motivate her to success, as well as “the support of the women I’ve looked up to”.

“I’m proud of the accomplishments achieved by Arab women over the past decade,” she adds.

“I am more proud of the mothers who have taught their daughters to be innovators, creators, fighters, and contributors to their community, like mine has.”

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Images: Shot on iPhone X