Saudi women seek scuba diving areas

Updated 11 February 2013
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Saudi women seek scuba diving areas

An increasing number of women scuba divers want designated areas to dive in the Red Sea to avoid the obstacles they face when trying to obtain a permit for a diving trip.
The Coast Guard does not permit women to dive without mahrams (male guardians).
Women-only diving courses are expensive, yet it has not hindered more Saudi women from taking up the sport. A six-day diving course for women costs between SR 1,500 and SR 2,000. The course includes two days of study, two days of diving in a pool and two days of diving in the sea. A trainee must be above 18 years old.
Factors like these keep women from practicing the sport.
In the last 10 years Saudi women divers showed commitment by obtaining diving licenses abroad, said diving coach Fuad Azmerli.
Saudi Tamader Baitallmal is a certified diving coach. She said it is difficult for women to practice diving since they do not have their own areas where they can dive freely, privately and without a mahram. Most boat trips also require a large number of participants. “These are not always available,” she said, adding that many diving trips were canceled because of that.
The fees of women coaches are high because they are few and the demand is high. “Nonetheless, an increasing number of women have started taking an interest in the sport,” said Riham Al-Qhadi, another licensed coach. She could not provide the number of women divers in the Kingdom, as such statistics are not available.
Women divers also deal with transportation issues since most coaching centers are in remote areas, Al-Qhadi added. But remote coaching centers that welcome women are the only ones that can provide privacy.
Samar Al-Fatih, a Saudi diving coach who obtained her license abroad, “because the adequate atmosphere in Jeddah is unavailable,” said she wants to compete internationally.
“Nothing is impossible. All I have to do is to keep training,” Al-Fatih said.
Al-Fatih said she would travel to another country to practice the sport without limitations, referring to “marine clubs in the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain that charge subscribers for arranging diving trips.”
She said private pools are a dull alternative to the ocean for any diver.
Diving coach Azmerli said it is important to create clubs and centers specifically for women divers to provide them with the surroundings they require. Implementing regulations for women diving would support the sport in Jeddah, especially since there are many women who beat experienced men in terms of skills. Women are qualified to compete internationally. However, Azmerli said dedicating beaches to women only beach is unpractical and expensive.


Ramadan offers ‘golden opportunity’ to get in shape, say Saudi fitness experts

Updated 4 min 15 sec ago
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Ramadan offers ‘golden opportunity’ to get in shape, say Saudi fitness experts

  • Many Muslims take advantage of the holy month of fasting to keep fit
JEDDAH: Saudi fitness experts have urged Muslims to use Ramadan as a “golden opportunity” to start a new healthy lifestyle.
The holy month of fasting is the perfect time to get into shape, say some of the Kingdom’s top trainers.
With regular exercise, Ramadan can offer a new start for many worshippers both spiritually and physically. RK Fit gym owner, Reham Kamal, told Arab News that working out while fasting was healthy because the body used stored fat as energy, resulting in more fat burning.
The 32-year-old Saudi coach recommended low- to medium-impact workouts while fasting to avoid dehydration and advised trying calisthenics, a form of exercise consisting of a variety of movements which work large muscle groups, such as running, standing, grasping and pushing.
Kamal said: “Ramadan is a great opportunity to lose weight. We shouldn’t eat too much when breaking our fast. Sadly, in our culture, people take this month as an opportunity to fill the table.
“They aren’t seeing the golden opportunity to get into shape, because fasting has numerous health benefits, not only weight loss. It promotes blood-sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, increases growth hormone secretion, which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, and aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism.
“For fat burning, it is better to work out an hour before breaking your fast, since the insulin level is low, but for building lean, toned muscles, it is better to work out two hours after breaking fast because the insulin level is high,” she added.
Mashael Fagerah, 35, owner of House of Agility, a studio offering high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and circuit training, said: “You can do everything you normally do during fasting especially if you are used to working out. But if you are a beginner, I would recommend starting carefully with low-impact training.”
She told Arab News that many Muslims took advantage of Ramadan to keep fit.
“Whether before iftar, before sahoor or between them, if you have the time for a workout just do it,” added Fagerah. “At the end of the day, it is better than doing nothing.”
Saudi personal trainer and co-founder of Swish bootcamp, Sohaib Mubarak, 29, said it was important to choose the right kind of fitness regime. “When you haven’t had anything to drink or eat your body is low in fuel and dehydrated. Therefore, performing high-intensity training would harm your body and your health.
“Also, studies show that the difference in results is insignificant between exercising in a fasted or a fed state,” he added. 
Mubarak recommended low-intensity cardio for a short period of time. “That is 60 percent to 70 percent of maximum heart rate. By doing that you won’t sweat much and get dehydrated.”
He said people often wrongly related not eating to weight loss, when infact they should focus more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than watching the weighing scales.
“In my opinion Ramadan is like any other month, because losing weight and having a good shape is about changing your eating habits and lifestyle for life not only for one month. One month is not enough to create a tremendous transformation. It’s all about consistency,” Mubarak told Arab News.
Saudi fitness trainer and owner of B. Bros gym, Rayan Bashawri, 27, stressed the importance of listening to the body’s needs and capabilities.
“So many studies have been done about fasted training or training on an empty stomach, and it shows different thoughts depending on what kind of athlete you are or what kind of sport you are doing.
“But my opinion is to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. It’s not healthier to do fasted training but it’s not bad for you either. You can reach your goal either way,” he told Arab News.
The number of people taking out gym subscriptions often shoots up during Ramadan.
Bashawri said: “Right after Ramadan is the time when people travel, and it’s a beach season as well, so obviously everyone wants to look good. The ages of those hitting the gym at this time of the year are from 18-30.”
Fasting was a great opportunity to lose weight, but Bashawri noted that staying up late and sleeping during the day was not ideal. He also warned people not to over-exert themselves if exercising during fasting as it could cause injury and dehydration.