Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast vows that she ‘will win Olympic gold’ one day

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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
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Saudi Arabia's youngest gymnast Aya Shata. (AN photo)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast vows that she ‘will win Olympic gold’ one day

JEDDAH: When Aya Shata was 5, she told her mother she would grow up to become an Olympic champion.
Now, two years later, Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast is on her way to realizing her dream. And her mother, Dr. Dania Bogari, said she “will go to the ends of the earth to make that happen.”
Shata was born and raised in Jeddah and attends Jeddah Knowledge School.
The young gymnast started practicing gymnastics by herself at the age of 2, and would enrol in camps whenever she traveled.
Shata is enthusiastic about other sports, too, and has taken classes in ballet, football and basketball. She has an orange belt in karate.
Aya has several certificates from the Dynamic Code Center sports club in Jeddah, which has congratulated her on her gymnastic achievements.
Her mother said that Aya’s older brother Alwaleed had been her inspiration. “They are three years apart, and he showed her the world of sports when she first opened her eyes,” said Bogari.
“I want to go to the Olympics when I grow up, win gold medals and represent Saudi Arabia,” the young gymnast told Arab News.
She took part in many gymnastic competitions, including Spartan Arabia in January 2017.
“Even when Aya was 2, I noticed that she was different from other children,” her mother said. “She was very determined. She was passionate about gymnastics. Other kids were not — they used to cry. I felt like their mothers were pushing them into it.
“Aya is different, she loves to go and actually asks me to take her to gymnastics,” she said.
Bogari said her daughter’s determination made gender roles and age limitations meaningless.
“She was the only girl in the soccer team. It was weird for the boys, but she did well. Even in basketball, she was the youngest and the coaches wanted to put her in the younger group, but she proved she can play with the older children.”
The young gymnast cares deeply about the environment and has created a scrapbook that highlights types of pollution and their risks.
“Aside from sports, Aya is very creative,” her mother said.
Bogari urged Saudi schools to foster talent and pointed to the UAE’s “Youth Ambassador Program” as an example of talented young people being trained as future national representatives.
“Aya is so proud to be Saudi — she loves her country, and wants to represent it and show that anything others can do, we can, too.
“I hope Aya finds all the support she needs to pursue her dream as a Saudi Olympic champion. As Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: ‘The success of the nation depends on the youth.”
Meanwhile, the young gymnast’s advice to anyone who wants to succeed is to “dream big and practice more to fulfil your talent.”


Saudi heritage chief launches Korean exhibition in Riyadh

Updated 57 min 11 sec ago
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Saudi heritage chief launches Korean exhibition in Riyadh

RIYADH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, the president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, officially opened an exhibition in Riyadh showcasing Korean history and culture. He was joined at the event by Professor Bae Kidong, the director general of the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, and Korean Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jo Byung-Wook.
Titled “Korean History and Culture: an Enchanting Journey to the Korean Civilization,” the exhibition — which will be at the National Museum until March 7, 2019 and is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia — features rare artifacts that showcase Korean archaeology, civilization and folklore, as well as a selection of exhibits from the Korean National Museum.
Prince Sultan said that such cooperation in the field of culture and archaeology is very important, especially since Korea has a great and ancient culture, and given its important relationship with Saudi Arabia through the years.
On behalf of the Korean government and people, Prof. Bae expressed his sincere appreciation to the Kingdom for hosting the exhibition.