Start-up of the Week: Swish — Promoting healthy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia

Updated 03 July 2018
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Start-up of the Week: Swish — Promoting healthy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia

  • Basketball and sports build characters and have a positive impact on people’s overall behavior
  • Swish Basketball Academy started its operations in October 2017 with a program called MoHandles Basketball Camps, which was aimed at teaching basketball enthusiasts the basics of the game

JEDDAH: Saudis are generally considered soccer-crazy people and it is true, they do not mind also engaging in other sports.
One can find Saudis — men and women — participating in all kinds of sports and basketball is no exception. There is an academy in Jeddah that offers basketball training to aspiring players of both genders in a range of age groups.
Swish Basketball Academy started its operations in October 2017 with a program called MoHandles Basketball Camps, which was aimed at teaching basketball enthusiasts the basics of the game.
The founding coach of the academy, Mohanned Shobain, said due to public demand he decided to open an academy.
Shobain is a Saudi professional basketball player and he plays for the Ittihad Club. He is also a skills development coach recognized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). He has been coaching for 10 years in different organizations, and holds a master’s degree in sports business from Cleveland State University, Ohio.
Other coaches at Swish are Racan Barnawi and Sari Abdulmehsen, who are professional players and basketball coaches recognized by FIBA. They are also strength and conditioning coaches.
Currently, more than 100 members are enrolled with the basketball academy. It aims to promote a healthy lifestyle in Saudi Arabia, according to Shobain.
He wants to support female athletes and increase the number of female basketball players in the Kingdom.
“My goal is to increase the number of athletes in Saudi Arabia and encourage all age groups, especially children, to be active and live a healthy lifestyle. I wish to build a new generation with a better mindset and skills to be able to compete at the Olympics level,” Shobain said.
“Basketball and sports build characters and have a positive impact on people’s overall behavior.”
The academy plans to open its own state-of-the-art facilities across the Kingdom. It aspires to become one of the top sports academies not just in Saudi Arabia but also across the Middle East.
Swish’s online payment system is currently under development. Currently, customers can contact the academy through social media accounts or visit the academy currently located in Jeddah Private School’s facility to sign up.
“The process is easy: Once they make the call or visit us we give them a free pass to try out our class once or twice so as to help them make a decision.
“Usually, they practice 2-3 times a week or 8-12 sessions a month. It is a monthly program but some customers wish to sign up for 2-3 months,” Shobain said.
Interested people can visit the academy’s website or find it on Instagram @swishksa for further details.


We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States help build stronger ties. (AN photo)
Updated 19 September 2018
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We have a story to share with the Saudi people, says new US official in Riyadh

  • We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States: US Public Affairs Counselor in KSA

RIYADH: Cultural and educational exchange programs between Saudi Arabia and the United States “help build stronger ties between the two countries and bring them closer together,” according to Brian Shott, the new US Public Affairs Counselor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a reception to welcome him at the US embassy in Riyadh on September 18, he said: “One of the main things we do is we try to share aspects of the United States and of American culture, but we also learn from Saudis and Saudi culture.” 

In her opening speech, the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Martina Strong also highlighted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying: “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of a friendship that has extended over many, many decades.”

Shott, who previously served in Morocco, Cairo and Baghdad, will be in Saudi Arabia for the next two years, during which he will promote educational and cultural exchanges.

“There are some real opportunities here and we have been fortunate enough to be able take advantage of partnerships with Saudi organizations and Saudi agencies, whether it is the General Authority for Culture or the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“We have a story to tell and a story to share in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi people. We are pleased that so many Saudis want to study in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the reception also served as a farewell to Robin Yeager, the cultural attache in Riyadh. She said that it had been a “very dynamic time to be in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be here at a time when I get to know first-hand the future that Saudis are trying to build.”

The night that women were were given the right to drive, she said she went out and saw the “thrill on their faces.” To assist with empowerment and other progressive policies, embassy staff work on social issues and provide leadership training for women’s groups, she said.

“It is beautiful because they take something that an American expert talks to them about and they turn it into the Saudi way to approach it,” she added. “It’s not that we are changing things; it’s that we are giving them tools, so they can build what they want to build.”