The team consists of 15,000 members, among whom are Europeans, Americans and Asians keen to learn about Saudi Arabia’s heritage.
The founder of the Saudi Arabia Hiking Team, Ali Al-Qahtani, told Arab News that the team is a national initiative launched in 2014 with the aim to raise the Saudi flag on, and introduce the world to the country’s historical and heritage sites.
The hiking team has produced a complete ecosystem of health, fitness, sports, and awareness-raising messages for protecting the environment, promoting teamwork, and gaining positive qualities from climbing mountains and discovering new places, according to Al-Qahtani.
He said: “We are a sports, tourism and cultural group with 15,000 members and a large audience from across the Arab World and the Arab Gulf States.”
“We perform our activities in 16 locations across Saudi Arabia, and among our team members are physicians, engineers and teachers,” Al-Qahtani continued, then added: “We promote this sport for the noble messages it conveys, especially the protection of public properties.”
Al-Qahtani said the hiking team works with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) to organize Live Saudi trips. “We organize more than six events every day and ‘Do Not Leave an Impact’ leadership workshops, in addition to studying historic and archaeological routes to ensure their environmental safety before the team members and tourists walk through them.”
He pointed out that the team identifies dangerous places, how dangerous they are, the number of participants, and sorts participants based on their participation levels— beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
“The Saudi Arabia Hiking Team has carried out more than 400 trips across the Kingdom, the Arab Gulf States, and most countries around the world. Our most recent trip was in China,” he explained.
The Saudi hiking team’s chief said: “We aim to bring tourism from abroad to inside the Kingdom, and there are planned adventures for advanced participants that include spending a whole day climbing high mountains, where we experience the diverse geographies of different locations.”
He highlighted that there is also a separate women-only team with great goals to promote tourism. “The women’s team started training and is successfully advancing,” he said. “They also participated in the UAE’s 45th National Day.”
The route length for beginners and the elderly is 3 km, while for intermediate participants, it is 20 km, and the route for advanced trips is 50 km, explained Al-Qahtani.
“The latest advanced trip was in Al-Rayth, where we used ropes and thankfully successfully completed it,” he added.
Al-Qahtani urged all adventurous youths to join the Saudi Arabia Hiking Team, pointing out that the team proudly documents its trips and enjoys good media coverage, as well as safety and tracking of routes, in addition to focusing on general health and weight loss.