“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Hi, could you introduce yourself in a few words?
Fay: Hi, my name is Fay Al-Zouman and I’m the co-founder of Reyathena. I’m 23 years old and I’m a hard-core adrenaline junkie!
Rawan: My name is Rawan Al Thunayan and I’m the co-founder of Reyathena.
Tell us about your education:
Fay: I studied business, which is something that I swore I would never do. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it!
Rawan: I studied Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at Kuwait University.
What is it exactly that you do?
We’re the co-founders of Reyathena, an online platform for competing athletes in the GCC. We’re a database where athletes can showcase their achievements. We also help connect them to opportunities.
What got you interested in what you’re doing?
Fay: Sports has always been my passion. I’ve always been interested in trying new things and challenging myself. Some of the sports that I’m interested in are snowboarding, wake boarding, horseback riding, skydiving, bungee jumping, kiteboarding, surfing, skateboarding, football and basketball.
Rawan: Growing up, I always had an interest in sports in general, which has driven me to participate and try out multiple sports over the years. So, working on Reyathena came naturally since I was already passionate about the field of sports.
What makes you unique or special in what you are doing?
Reyathena focuses on creating an inclusive community that supports and empowers athletes of all sports, ages and levels. We provide them with exposure as well as opportunities that can help further develop their skills.
Tell us your journey to where you have reached today. How was the initial struggle?
The biggest struggle has been creating the tech part. We launched the Reyathena website in December 2018. We were originally supposed to launch it in November 2016. That’s why we took it upon ourselves to learn how to code so we could take matters into our own hands.
How has been the help of your family in what you are doing? Were they supportive since the beginning?
Our families have been extremely supportive from the beginning. They have always believed in Reyathena and really valued the positive impact that it would have on the community.
Who are your top 3 heroes and why?
Fay: My mom, my mom, my mom! My ultimate, biggest role model is my mom, because she’s an absolute genius in everything she does. If I can grow to be a quarter of the woman she is, I’d be more than happy
Rawan: I don’t have specific heroes. I look up to and get inspired by all those around me who successfully achieve their goals, by surpassing all the hardship and obstacles they face along the way for the sake of the greater good.
What are some of the challenges you are facing in your field and how are you overcoming them?
Athletes don’t have the support that they deserve in the region. In the west, for example, companies scramble to try and sponsor athletes. Our aim is to help change that.
What advice or mentorship made a difference in your career?
To really believe in what you’re doing and be passionate about it.
How would your friends describe you?
Fay: I actually asked my friends and the most common answers were: Adventurous, passionate, ambitious and energetic.
Rawan: My friends would describe me as motivated, ambitious, supportive and hardworking.
What are some of your hobbies?
Fay: Adventure travel, volunteering abroad, different kinds of sports and most recently, coding!
Rawan: Mainly trying out different sports as well as travelling/exploring the world and getting introduced to different cultures.
What are some of your top achievements?
Some of the things we did included working on a couple of press conferences and events. We connected athletes to artists that will be including them in their music video (which will be coming out soon), and gave the opportunity for one of our athletes to be posted on Zain’s Instagram for her achievements.
What are your plans or goals for the future?
We plan on including more opportunities for sports enthusiasts. Reyathena believes in inclusivity with regards to the sports industry. Our goal is to encourage people to try out different kinds of sports and find their passion.
How did it feel to be chosen for this award?
We’re humbled to have been picked alongside such wonderful nominees! We’re happy to see youths achieving their goals and breaking barriers.
Your message for other young and talented people out there:
Be passionately curious. Try everything that piques your interest and always push for excellence. There might be times when you’ll want to give up. Don’t! Also, learn how to code!
Tell us about a dream that you would like to fulfill or make it a reality.
We’d love to see more people (especially girls) get into sports and take it seriously. We have so many great athletes in the region and they have the capacity to be breaking records and have their names written in history books. We hope to see more full-time, professional athletes proudly raising their flags on the podium.