Female Saudi black belt shares her story

Nehad Sulaimani is a sports lover and karate black belt who once captained a basketball team. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 15 May 2019
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Female Saudi black belt shares her story

  • She has made time to establish her own magazine for mothers and children to nurture their health and fitness

JEDDAH: Tall, slender and graceful, Nehad Sulaimani is not your typical black belt in karate.
“During my childhood, I lived abroad with my parents. They noticed how active I was in school and encouraged me to try different sports. From then on, the seed was planted and now, I am in love with sport,” she smiles, recalling those early days at the age of 8.
Most Saudi women witnessed previous generations, who did not practice structured sport yet remain relatively fit. The reason, of course, is that many of their grandmothers had a more active lifestyle than we do today.
In a more passive, digital world, sport is increasingly important to replace that active existence. As part of Vision 2030, physical education was formally incorporated into girls’ public schools in Saudi Arabia in 2017. 
The Kingdom’s drive to encourage more women into sports continued with the appointment of Princess Reema bint Bandar as the first woman to head the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.
Since 2014, Sulaimani has trained with coach Rawan Zahran, professional trainer and founder of Sweat Army gym. She also trains with US fitness icon Alexia Clarke. 
While Sulaimani has a black belt in karate, she also became the captain of the  Saudi women’s basketball team — the first women’s team to play at Al-Jawhara Stadium in Jeddah.
“I tell young girls if they want to have a good life and good body, doing exercise is important for physical and mental health. Eating healthy food goes hand in hand with that,” Sulaimani stressed.
She added that finding an appropriate area to exercise in was important to increase its effectiveness, as well as one’s own enjoyment: “Walking and jogging on the Corniche in Jeddah is lovely, especially during cooler times of the day.” 
With the abundance of gyms and sport facilities in Saudi Arabia for women, there is no excuse for not exercising or engaging in physical activity. 
Saudi women have participated in the Olympics and have founded teams in different sports.
The Kingdom even has a woman racing driver, Reema Juffali, who made history representing her country in the 2019 F4 British Championship.
As for social media, it has proven to be a powerful tool for exchanging ideas and an excellent way to reach out to the public. Sulaimani uses it to help others with exercise by posting demonstration videos.
“Social media allows me to show others my class. I give them workout ideas and explore various exercise moves,” Sulaimani continued. 
She has also made time to establish her own magazine for mothers and children to nurture their health and fitness.


Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 20 July 2019
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Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

CAIRO: Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.
Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.
For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.
It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.
With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.
Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.
As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.
It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.
Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.
Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.
Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.
The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.
Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.