A still image from the Nike advertisement for empowering Arab women in sports. (The Daily Star/Twitter)
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An online commercial released by Nike this week showing Arab women fencing, boxing and spinning on ice-skates has stirred controversy over its attempt to smash stereotypes about women leading home-bound lives in the conservative region.Filmed in the older, rundown suburbs of the glitzy Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai, the ad reflects the struggles faced not only by women across the region but also by some its own stars.Women exercising in public is a rare sight in much of the region and women-only gyms are few, are not fully equipped for different sports and are often more expensive than gyms for men.The ad's message may also tap into an emerging new market for Arab women chafing at hidebound social norms and an entertainment industry that often relegates them to docile roles.
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