Thursday, September 7, 2017

Q&A with Amal Murad | A Pioneer in the UAE Parkour Scene

On August 11th,2017, I was honored to host TEDx Fujairah. I was truly inspired by the speakers I met that day and also by the amazing team efforts from he organizers. There was some inspiring speakers and some incredible entertainment that took place. One of those speakers was "Amal Murad". My first impression of Amal was that shes very energetic, passionate. Amal is a pioneer as she is the first Emirati female parkour instructor. 

Below is a quick Q&A with Amal about how she started and what does parkour mean to her. Check it out & also at the end of the interview, check out the link of her TEDx Talk..

Q: How did you get into Parkour. Was it a specific video you saw, a friend? tell us. 
Amal Murad: Since childhood, I used to play video games like 'tomb raider' where the woman lead character would be doing all kinds of cool stunts. Being the daredevil myself as a child who had climbed over to the neighbors' houses and found a path to avoid getting caught by the dogs, I've always felt that I had that side of me. However, I didn't understand what "that side" really was until I could give it a name almost 20 years later. It was when Xdubai started sponsoring two parkour athletes. That is when I was introduced to the sport and had finally started appreciating what possibilities there were. 

Q. You've always said that parkour somehow "Liberated you" - Can you expand more on that? What were liberated from? 
AM: I've always considered sports as a way to release pent up negative energy. Not only is it scientifically proven that exercise gives out endorphins, but to me its more about the way you feel after a dedicated workout. Parkour especially allows you to express yourself through movement. It isn't about jumping over buildings but more about what you find yourself capable of doing when you set your mind on something. 

Q. Parkour for you is a way of life. What is/are the main misconceptions if any about this sport? 
AM: I have heard that parkour isn't considered a "real" sport and that it doesn't do much for the body. People tend to underestimate just how much endurance, cardio, strength and explosiveness is required in parkour. We use legs for jumping and balancing, arms for climbing and hanging; truth be told, its a full body workout but the best part is that you don't feel it is. 

Q. You were part of an incredible campaign by "Nike". Tell us about that opportunity. How did it happen? & what is the message that they were trying to convey? 
AM: It was such an exciting opportunity because Nike approached us and wanted to know the struggles we faced as Muslim Arab women in sports. When we initially spoke to them, it was on a very superficial level where we discussed attire and that we had to wear more layers but the dialogue got much more personal. We then went to discuss the reason why we were afraid to even practicing a sport. Almost all of us said that we were afraid of what people would say about us. That is the mental wall we all have and continue to face on daily basis and only we are the ones who are capable of overcoming that wall. 

Q.  How important is the support you been getting from your family? 
AM: I can't stress enough on how important it is to get support from the people you love especially your family. It truly makes all the difference. I am never an advocate to go against your family to do something but more of trying to prove to them over time that you truly are passionate about something.

Q: At any point during your journey. Did you feel like giving up & if so, what did you do to overcome this? 
AM: Yes, when I broke both bones in my forearm. It truly broke my spirit because I felt like that was the end of the road for me. However, that is when your true strength is tested. I feel like it was a good time to reflect on what I have accomplished and whether or not I had the faith to continue. It's about remembering that everything happens for a reason and you have to trust the process. 

Q. What's your dream with Parkour? 
AM: My dream is to encourage more women to try new things in life and to not be afraid of diving into something they love.

Q. You were one of the speakers at TEDX Fujairah. Tell us about the experience of being on a Tedx Stage? & how did the crowd react to your talk?
AM:The experience was overwhelming in the best kind of way. I never expected the crowd to cheer as much as they did. It truly showed me that there are so many people out there going through the same things I am and that we're all in this together in trying to figure out what our purposes are. 

Q. Any last messages/shout outs.. go ahead. 
AM: Shoutout to Big Hass who was the MC during tedxfujairah. He truly is one of the most uplifting people I have come across in a long time. I remember how he hyped me up before my speech when I was nervous and I couldn't be more grateful.

**Watch Amal Murad's Tedx Fujairah HERE

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