UAE-based podcast for women in sport ‘goes global’

Since launching last year, The Mettleset Podcast has reached listeners in more than 92 countries

UAE-based The Mettleset Podcast, dedicated to sharing stories of under-represented athletes and unreported sports from the Middle East and beyond, has gone global.

Since launching in October 2022, the podcast has reached listeners in more than 92 countries, and ranks among the top podcasts on Apple Podcasts, reaching the coveted #1 ranking in its category across 14 countries.

As one of only a handful of podcasts in the sports category to be hosted by women, the platform has found its biggest following in the UAE (32 per cent), followed by Saudi Arabia (15 per cent) and the UK (15 per cent).

Founded by Dubai-based Dawn Barnable, an ultra-cyclist, and Afshan Ahmed, an endurance athlete, the platform says it is the first and only one in the Middle East to put women in sport first.

Guests interviewed on the podcast represent the ‘who’s who’ of the region’s female sporting trailblazers including Saudi Rally driver Dania Akeel, the first Saudi woman to complete in and first Arab woman to place top ten in the Dakar Rally.

Barnable says that the idea for The Mettleset was born out of a frustration at the lack of women’s sports coverage and the limited range of niche sports in the mainstream media.

“Working in sports communications for over 10 years, I’ve seen first-hand the gap in women’s coverage within the mainstream sports media. Through this, I had a vision to create a platform that celebrates and puts women in sport first, as it also drives the growing movement for diversity, equity and inclusion in the sporting ecosystem both here and abroad,” says Barnable.

Ahmed adds: “The phenomenal success that we have had in garnering listenership and being among the top podcasts in several countries so soon after our launch validates the growing appetite for women’s sports and more multi-dimensional stories from a range of disciplines in the region.”

Brand opportunity

Audiences too are increasingly tuning into women’s sports, opening opportunities for lucrative sponsorships.

A YouGov Global Sports Whitepaper from 2022 found that UAE has one of the world’s highest rates of people who prefer to watch women’s sports over mens (45 per cent), second only to India. Another study by Nielsen found that unbundled women’s sponsorship investment across three of the biggest rights holders – FIFA, UEFA and World Rugby – rose by 146 per cent in 2021.

“One of the key focus areas for The Mettleset is to create a robust avenue to increase the visibility for female athletes so that brands and companies see the value and return on investment in supporting their careers,” adds Barnable.