Filmmaker: Sana al-Zayani 

In 2011, four young Omani women decided to break the mould, challenge stereotypes and learn to sail. It's a sport dominated by men, but Rajaa Mubarak al-Owaisi, Entisar al-Tobi, Raya Rashid al-Habsi and Asrar al-Ajmi made up the crew of al-Thuraya under the auspices of Oman Sail. The crew and their boat take their name, al-Thuraya, from a constellation of stars.

The four young women were part of a government initiative to promote the power of sport internationally, put Oman on the global map and revive the country's maritime heritage. By doing so, they challenged Gulf stereotypes of women.

We want to present a positive image and change the stereotypical expectation of women …We want to tell them that women can do more, physically and mentally. We want to change the misperception of women's capabilities.

Raya Rashid al-Habsi, sailor

The women and their families had to think carefully about the effect their sailing might have on family life and whether it would affect their marriage prospects or responsibilities in the future.

"It [marriage] hasn't happened yet," says Asrar al-Ajmi. "If it happens, I'll have to think about my priorities. It also depends on whether he'll accept it or not."

As well as empowering these young Omani women in ways they didn't imagine possible, sailing enabled them to develop as people.

"I've changed a lot," says sailor Rajaa Mubarak al-Owaisi. "I wasn't a sociable person before. But now I've changed. I meet journalists and people from other countries. I never thought I'd travel abroad."

Al-Thuraya was the first women's sailing team in the Gulf region.They set out to change perceptions of women in the region by doing the same thing as the men, in the same conditions.

But it was about more than just a yacht racing. They wanted to move barriers to achieve something different.

"We're doing this for our country, our families who've supported us and the management as well," explains Raya Rashid al-Habsi. "We want to present a positive image and change the stereotypical expectation of women ... We want to tell them that women can do more, physically and mentally. We want to change the misperception of women's capabilities."

Al-Thuraya crewmembers and coaches paved the way for what's now called The Oman Women's Sailing Team and hope their example will encourage young Omani women to follow suit.

"What I would really like the al-Thuraya team to do ... is to show other people, women, men that this is a good adventure," explains coach Niall Myant.

"It is something really special to have people say, 'Well, you know, you were impressive, I respect your talent,' and that is what this team is about. It is about hopefully some children will look at the team and think maybe that is for me, maybe I should work hard enough that I can go to the world championship, with the Oman flag on my back and show everybody how strong we can be."

Source: Al Jazeera