A True Athletic Life, Interview with Dana Zubari

Dana Zubari

Dana Zubari, the first Bahraini women to compete in a Half Iron Man is a true reflection of Bahraini women’s athletic skills. Starting her first track and field competition at a national level when she was just 12 years. She has won awards for a wide range of sporting activities, include volleyball, running, and triathlons. The co-founder of Cycling Bees, Lettuce Run, and Tru Activ, Dana Zubari shares on what motivates on these exciting activities in life.

You are an athlete in the true sense. Starting first track and field competition at a national level when you were just 12 years. Is your passion for athletics inborn or a legacy?

I definitely feel it is something I am born with. Sports just comes naturally to me I can very easily pick up different sports.  I also feel I’m a well-rounded athlete in terms of strength and endurance.  When you have an active lifestyle from a young age, your body is able to adapt and excel in other activities as you get older.

You have participated and won awards for a wide range of sporting activities, include volleyball, running, and triathlons. Which one is your favorite and why?

I feel each competition has its own challenges.  I couldn’t choose which one I would feel most proud of when you get on the podium because I feel all of them are worth being proud of even if you don’t make it.

Personally, I love running just because all you need is a pair of shoes it is literally a sport that can be practiced anywhere.  For me running is just made for everyone, rich or poor don’t have a gym membership you can walk out of your house and pound the pavement.

You are among the first Bahraini women to complete in a Half Iron Man. Can you detail your experience in this triathlon?

I would say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  There weren’t a lot of female triathletes competing in the local triathlons in 2013 except me and Nada Jamsheer.  The customized trisuits wasn’t available here in Bahrain.  How HRH Sheikh Nasser bringing in Challenge and Ironman to Bahrain has transformed the residents on the Island into embracing this sport. Since then there has been a massive increase in Bahraini Female participants for Ironman Bahrain.

Can you tell us about Tru Active?

Tru Active is an active wear brand that I set up with my sister Hala Zubari. She is a fashion designer who graduated from London College of Fashion in London, England. We promised that if we were going to produce something there would be a meaning behind it. All of our garments are made with high grade quality fabrics. It is constructed to be worn in high repetition. We decided to run our first collection with the help of our father Khaled Zubari’s Arabic calligraphy. This became our signature touch to our designs, something that tied our heritage to our activewear. We’ve been around since 2015 now, and going into our 5th collection. We are now sold in Kuwait and soon to be in the UAE.

Can you detail your role in CyclingBees and Lettuce run?

CyclingBees started when Sarah Al Sammak and I both had children and I needed to train for Ironman Bahrain 2016. Sarah was training for the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge.  We both took a break after having our daughters and wanted to get back into cycling but all the other cycling groups were more advanced and we wanted to build up our stamina till the competition.  Sarah and I started cycling all over Bahrain taking amazing photos of different spots all over the island.  Other women and moms started contacting us asking if they could join us, and that is how the Cycling Bees started.

The idea of Lettuce Run came about after Mariam Turki talked a lot of women approaching her to start a running group for beginners.  I told her I was totally thinking of doing the same after seeing how excited the girls where when they ran for the Bahrain Marathon Relay.  We came up with the concept for women to build up to 3km if they can’t by having 4 different categories (1. continuous run 2. 2 min run 1 min walk 3. 30 sec run 1 min run 4. power walking). My sister Hala Zubari is great with branding. She suggested the name Lettuce Run because you always tell people that “you are so skinny you only eat lettuce“. Lettuce Run is also a play on words with Let Us Run. Mariam Turki and I are co-founders of Lettuce Run.

Work/life balance of women is always a question. How do you manage between your activities and family time?

This one is a hard one to answer because it is very hard to balance work and your family.  It is all about time management and also there are times where you have to prioritize work and there are times where you have to prioritize.  I try to minimize my activities to three to four times a week then I give full attention to my family.  I also try to have a To Do list that I try to tackle every day and a weekly To Do list.

Who/what’s your greatest support system? How do you motivate yourself?

I would say my mother, my sister, and my husband are my biggest support system.  Without them I don’t think I’d be able to accomplish as much as I have been able to do.  My mother and husband help out a lot with my daughter so I don’t have the mommy guilt.  My sister is someone I don’t think I could ever live without! She isn’t just my number one cheerleader she motivates me to be the best version of myself.

I love what I’m doing and that on its own is motivation.  If I hated what I am doing or I felt like what I’m doing with work then I do have to try to keep motivated.

How has the Kingdom supported you all through?

Firstly, I have to thank HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa for always supporting women and for supporting me on my first Ironman by sponsoring my whole trip.  In general the community have been so supportive with both cycling and running. 

What’s your vision for female athletes in the Kingdom?

My vision for women is to prioritize their health. We are definitely guilty of putting everyone’s needs ahead of our own.  I believe when you are healthy and fit that will help you with your mental health. When you are physically and mentally healthy you become a more functional and better human in society. You will reflect these healthy habits to the people who are surrounding you.  Effectively bettering the community you are in living in.