Meet the Founders: Haya Al Ghanim, the Visionary Behind Oola
By Oola Sports ·
September 25, 2016
· Behind the Scenes
Oola co-founder and CEO Haya Al Ghanim is anything but average. Her closest friends would describe her as positive, inspiring, and full of energy. In 2015 alone, she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with co-founder Amina Ahmadi, co-founded Oola, got engaged, got married, and managed her full-time job as Innovation Director at the Qatar Science & Technology Park. To say the least, she never stops doing. She is a go-er, a do-er, a thinker, and a changemaker.
Haya at a Glance
Haya was inspired to start her fitness journey by a 78 year-old who crossed the finish line during the Boston Marathon in 2013, “I thought, what an accomplishment. I’m 28 and can’t even fathom having to run a 10K, let alone a full marathon.” So, she started training, and now sports are a central part of her life.
- How She Stays Active: Running and strength training to prepare for races (3-4 per year), plus cycling with friends and hiking when I travel.
- Favorite Place to Run: Oxygen Park and Aspire Park when I’m in Doha
- Craziest Adventure: White-water rafting without knowing how to swim! Plus, Mount Kilimanjaro.
- Most Ambitious Goal in Life: In life in general, reaching a balance between family, myself, fitness and work. In sports, running the Boston Marathon!
- Proudest Achievement: She celebrates all, grand and small.
- Biggest Fear: Animals
- On Her Playlist: Every song by Kathim Al Saher
- Her Passions: “Sharing the joy of positive experiences whether be it in learning about other cultures, sports, education or adventures.”
Bringing a Vision to Life
A Qatari tech buff and amateur athlete with a love for the outdoors, Haya knows how hard it is to find sportswear that is modest, modern and functional. That’s how Oola was born.
Oola Sportswear is the brainchild of Haya’s desire to enjoy the great outdoors while staying inline with her values and culture. “My drive is a result of being able to provide Muslim women with a whole new experience in sports and fitness,” she says. After tireless shopping sprees at major sports stores and a whole lot of creativity (and luck), Haya often found herself having to mix and match a lot of pieces from various stores to make an outfit work.
“I love outdoors sports, and I wanted to be comfortable while exercising. Plus, I wanted friends to join me — if they can’t find the right clothes to exercise with me, though, they don’t even make it out on the run!”
— Haya Al Ghanim, co-founder and CEO, Oola Sportswear
Haya hopes that Oola Sportwear will make room for women in the Muslim world to feel comfortable while enjoying outdoor sports as well as lower the barrier to entry for women looking to compete in sports professionally. “I want what I wear to become the norm or mainstream,” she says. “Rather than the unique pieces I mixed and matched together in the past, I want Oola to become the comfortable, stylish option for women seeking function and fashion.”
Beyond doing this for herself and her friends, Haya says she is driven by the future generation. “I believe when women experience outdoor activities, they’re more likely to influence and encourage their children to be active,” she says. “In founding Oola, I can be part of creating a healthy lifestyle for the next generation.”
When Haya is not outdoors working up a sweat or thinking about the latest in loose-fitting, modest sportswear, she coaches tech entrepreneurs, mentoring them on how to launch their own businesses. She holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, which makes her coaching all the more relevant!
Haya is excited for the October launch of Oola Sportswear. It’s been 16 months in the making, and now she gets to see how the world responds to what she and her team think is a line of game-changing activewear for women seeking comfort, function, and optimal coverage.