How water sports can make an impact on society

How water sports can make an impact on society

I come from a family which regarded the sea as an almost sacred place. My grandfather and great-grandfather were known as “Sheikhs of the Sea” almost 70 years ago, because of their import/export business. Seafood was their staple diet, and swimming and fishing were their main hobbies, as they were for my uncles later.

I don’t know if it’s genetic, but I too grew up with a love for the sea, and as soon as I learned of the possibility of getting a scuba diving license, in 1997, I went and got one.

The whole experience was overwhelming. I was introduced for the first time to the world below the waves. 

The impact of that experience is ongoing, and includes many mixed feelings, but one thing I’m sure of is that I want that world to remain as beautiful as it was and deserves to be. 

And I believe anyone who experiences it would feel the same.

The fact that Saudi Arabia has the Red Sea to the west and the Arabian Gulf to the east has encouraged many Saudis to explore the opportunities offered by the sea. 

Not only is it a source of food and a platform for transportation, but it opened the door to new passions — water sports including swimming, fishing, diving, jet skiing, rowing, and sailing. 

The inauguration of open beaches last year means that more people than ever before have access to the joys of the sea.

The beautiful thing about water sports is that the more you dig into the world under the sea, the more you want to dig out the dirt and garbage that we have left there. 

Dr. Razan Baker

Although water sports — like many other sports — have traditionally been dominated by men, when the door was opened to women, they did not hesitate to join in. 

For example, last year there was a watersports workshop run by social entrepreneur Mona Othman; Nouf Alosaimi, the first Saudi woman to become a qualified scuba diving instructor; Captain Rebhi Skaik; and Abdulrahman Saati, founder of Saati Adventures.

Meanwhile, since 2015, Dr. Mariam Binladen has used her swimming skills to effect change and advocate for Syrian child refugees. 

In 2016, to raise awareness for the plight of children affected by the ongoing civil war in Syria, she swam the River Thames in London, completing 101 miles in 11 days.

The Saudi Arabian Maritime Sports Federation supervises all sea-related sports and leisure activities in the Kingdom, along with the General Entertainment Authority. 

It’s a field that has expanded rapidly in the past three years, thanks to Vision 2030 — the latest example being the “Sea & Culture” activities on the Corniche as part of the Jeddah Season.

The beautiful thing about water sports is that the more you dig into the world under the sea, the more you want to dig out the dirt and garbage that we have left there. 

The more you enjoy the sea, the more you feel responsible for it and the more you want to keep it clean.

If practicing sports in general helps to develop good values and morals, then water sports are no exception. For one thing, they will increase awareness of the maritime environment and its inhabitants. And for the younger generation, water sports are “learning by playing,” which is always an advantage.

In addition, the relationship you build with the sea tends only to grow stronger, as will your sense of responsibility toward the sea. How strong is your bond?

 

Dr. Razan Baker is a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Bowling Federation, a specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports, and a sports columnist and journalist.  Twitter: @RazanBaker

 

 

 

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