WATCH: Prominent People in Qatar – Nawaal Akram
Featured next in our series of Prominent People in Qatar is the young, vivacious and absolutely delightful, Nawaal Akram, Qatar’s first differently-abled stand-up comedian who continues to redefine the way physically-challenged individuals are looked at.
Born in Qatar to Pakistani parents, Nawaal was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at age six.
The disorder, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), causes muscles in the body to weaken and degenerate with time.
Among BBC’s 100 Most Influential Women for the year 2017, Nawaal’s journey proves that nothing is impossible when one dares to believe.
As a child, Nawaal says her social life was almost non-existent because she walked differently. Not only did children in her school mock her but also some parents complained to the school’s management about her ‘disability.’
“They felt uncomfortable because they thought their child would catch my disability,” she shared in an interview with BBC.
As a result, Nawaal’s parents were asked to stop sending her to school. She says being ostracized that way took an emotional toll on her as a child.
And once on the wheelchair, she had become bitter and didn’t want to interact with people “because I thought they won’t accept me anyway.”
However, it was her mother’s words of encouragement that gave Nawaal the motivation she needed to step out and share her talents with the world.
Not only did she end up doing her first stand-up comedy performance as a wheelchair-bound woman, but that exposure paved the way for several modeling offers that she undertook over time.
Her one requirement however was that the wheelchair would also be part of the shoots just as it is a part of her being, thus encouraging more acceptance and inclusion of wheelchair users in the country.
In addition to this, Nawaal became an athlete and has been a highly-active disability rights campaigner. She has been raising awareness of DMD under the support group Muscular Dystrophy Qatar that she founded in 2016.
Nawaal’s story is featured in a 2018 film by Luciana Ceccatto Farah, One in 50 Million, which was shown at the 6th Ajyal Film Festival last year.
Sharing one of her top jokes, Nawaal said, "I’m living every woman’s dream: I sit, I look good, and I boss people around, and I can wear heels 24/7."
While Nawaal continues to break barriers and do the many things she’s involved in, she has set her sights on much higher targets.
“My ultimate goal is to be on the cover of VOGUE Arabia,” a very cheerful Nawaal shared in her interview with BBC.
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