The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., WWE, on Sunday, announced the signing of its first female performer from the Arab world, Reuters reports.
Shadia Bseiso, a native of Jordan, shared her dreams of encouraging more Arab women to take up sports.
“Female athletes are finally getting the credit they deserve. The world is more open to that, and in terms of how the region will react to it, I’m hoping it’s going to be very positive”, she said.
While women exercising in public is rare in the Arab world and the local entertainment industry often relegates them to docile roles, big companies such as Nike have stepped up advertising geared towards female athletes. Still the high octane physicality and storylines of professional wrestling remain a novelty in the region.
Speaking to Reuters in the WWE’s Dubai office, Shadia explained that despite that her parents couldn’t believe her career choice and were worried about her safety, they support her fully.
She hoped this development will pave the way for other Arab women aspiring to go into sports.
“As it is, the WWE’s incredibly popular in the Middle East, but I think having athletes from the region who grew up here – it will change things. You finally have someone to root for”, she added.
The WWE Executive Vice President, Paul Levesque, popularly known as “Triple H” stated that recruiting Shadia to join the WWE’s developmental system underscores its ongoing commitment to building a talent roster as diverse as its fan base.
Shadia now heads to the company’s training centre in Florida, for gruelling in-ring training and what WWE calls “character development” – transformation into one of their trademark big personalities.
WWE delving into new demographics makes plenty of business sense for the $1.5 billion Connecticut company which has also recently signed several Indian and Chinese athletes in the hope of snaring millions of potential new devotees.