The team at BnBC had the rare and exciting privilege of meeting Sheikha Asma Al Thani of Qatar. A stunning vision of beauty and grace, her disarming smile and warmth conceals her strength of steel—but not for long. A visionary strategist, she wastes no time in championing a strong mindset as a way to reach one’s goals. We also get an exclusive peek into what drives her, how her upcoming North Pole expedition is all about women power, and why she’s the biggest believer in breaking boundaries.
Growing up with older brothers, she was always seen as the tiniest and smallest in the family. “There was always a strong sense of competition between us siblings, as I wanted to challenge that perception that I seemed weaker.”
Till this day, this is what inspires her in life—achieving a goal that seems impossible.
She believes we are the ones who stop ourselves from achieving our dreams. “We always say, ah I can’t do it. What would people say? I’m not strong enough. I’m not good enough. My parents would say no.”
She points out that these are the borders of limitations we set up for ourselves. “And we are the only one that can bring it down. Nobody else. And once you learn that, nothing is impossible.”
This is also why she’s joining the Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition 2018 with an international team of women from Europe and Middle East.
Her desired outcome is to inspire more participation in sports by women, and in the things they love by proving to them restrictions are purely a state of mind.
Attempting this incredible feat, on top of being the Director of Marketing and Communications in Qatar Olympic Committee, is no walk in the park. It takes steadfast dedication, tireless passion, and stretching one’s limit to the extreme. So this trip to the North Pole is really a matter of exploring if there are any boundaries to what women can do.
“I believe there are no boundaries. And if we share the same goal of breaking boundaries, we can all make it happen together.”
During the mission, all the things one is used to, like the luxury of one’s bed will all be stripped away. That’s when one’s true personality comes out. When that happens, things can get a little bit difficult. But again, she believes it’s all about the mindset. “Once we’ve set your minds to work together, we can accomplish it.
You can be an athlete. You can have the best endurance in the world. But if your mind is not set to it, then there’s only a small possibility you can make it there. “
Recalling the time when 6 girls training in her gym ended up conquering Mount Kilimanjaro after she had done it. And the time when a girl reached out to her on Instagram, feeling inspired to do the same, but was battling her personal mountain of being overweight.
“I told her, her goal should be to become strong. Once you are strong—both physically and mentally—everything else follows.”
She says this with conviction, as she knows of an athlete who wasn’t even able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. “It’s really all up to your mind. If you are overweight, exercise. Just have it in your mind you can do it. Then you make it happen. It’s not your weight. It’s not your muscles. It’s nothing.”
“It’s in the mind. The mindset is very important. If you do not see your goal, you’ll never reach it. No matter how much you try, you’ll never reach it unless your goal is very clear to you.”
Before moving on to her next schedule, Sheikha Asma left us with the two words she lives by.
Why? “Firstly, you must break your own perceived boundaries. When you break them down, you make it easy for people to do the same. You make them more open to see beyond their own limitations.”
This is when she breaks down the boundary of our short but sweet encounter by removing the distance any ordinary person would’ve kept when meeting another for the first time.
Drawing us closer into her world instead, she boldly shares, “I’m from the royal family, but I drive and travel on my own. I do things that might not seem normal. It might seem like a small thing to the Westerners or people around the world, but I’m the only female who’s done it in our country.”
But with breaking boundaries, she emphasised there is an understanding that it has nothing to do with rebelling or proving a point. “I don’t want to drive a car to prove a point. I want to drive a car because I want to get from point A to point B, not just to prove something. Set your priority straight. Know exactly what you want, while taking into consideration your family’s feelings. Family is very important. If you break a boundary with the attitude of, ‘You know what, I’m going to prove it to you, and I don’t care how you feel!’ You’ll lose something. If you rebel, it becomes an issue. Even if you achieve it, you might not be happy.”
Last but not least, she reminds us that training plays a part in achieving our goals. Currently, she’s working hard on training her flexibility and core to be a lot stronger, as she found out in Iceland that reaching down and touching her feet while on skis were a bit of a challenge.
On a fun note, she lets us in on a secret. Set on achieving her North Pole mission successfully, she’s already practicing her selfie pose for when she reaches the peak at the final stage. “I’ve always wanted to do a headstand! What better way to take a photo of myself on the North Pole?”
We break up in laughter at this playful revelation. But long after she’s gone, the weight and wisdom of her words continue to linger on, inspiring us to do a bit of soul-searching.
We’re now set to challenge any perceived limitations as to what we can or cannot do, even as we retuned out mindsets into breaking boundaries!
The adventure has begun!
Real Time Updates | Follow Sheikha Asma, and the team of international women on their Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition 2018: