Zahra Lari, the first professional figure skater to compete internationally wearing a headscarf

Dubai (CNN)The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a Persian Gulf state where temperatures soar as high as 48 degree Celsius (118.4 Fahrenheit) during summer, is famous for hosting the Formula 1, The Dubai World Cup horse race, camel races -- and even international cricket and skydiving tournaments.

It is hard to imagine, however, that this desert country where heavy snowfall is considered a national phenomenon, could become the first Arab state to join the International Skating Union (ISU), which administrates ice skating sports.
But that's exactly what has happened.
    And it's thanks to Zahra Lari, aged 22, who is not only the first skater from a Persian Gulf state to participate in international figure skating competitions, but also the first to do so wearing a headscarf.

      Ice princess

      If you think that pairing the ornate but revealing figure skating costume with a modest headscarf is unusual, you are not alone.
      And that was not the only hurdle Lari faced when she started figure skating 10 years ago in her home emirate of Abu Dhabi.
      "I began skating when I was 12 years old, after watching the Disney movie 'Ice Princess'," Lari tells CNN over email.

      A post shared by Zahra Lari (@zahralari) on

      She was a student at the time, and recalls waking up at 4.30am to train before going to school, and then practicing again in the afternoon. Lari trained at the only rink in Abu Dhabi, located within Zayed Sports City.
      In a conservative Muslim country, however, where Emirati women are expected to wear abayas -- wide fitting robes -- and headscarves in public, Lari performing routines in a tight-fitting figure skating outfit in front of men was not an easy task.