Saudi female boxer urges women to fight for their goals

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Halah Al-Hamrani
Updated 08 March 2017

Saudi female boxer urges women to fight for their goals

RIYADH: Women should persevere to reach their goals, Saudi female kickboxing and boxing trainer Halah Al-Hamrani told Arab News on the eve of International Women’s Day, which falls on Wednesday.
“Women should go for their passions. There will be difficult times, but they should overcome those challenges with determined effort,” said Al-Hamrani, the only Saudi female kickboxing and boxing trainer in the Kingdom.
A 40-year-old mother to a 7-year-old son, Al-Hamrani says all women must challenge themselves and push their limits.
She has her own gym in Jeddah, and plans to open a similar facility for children. “I have numerous requests from young Saudi women to open such a facility in the capital, and I hope to expand the network to the central province too,” she said, adding that women come to her gym to de-stress. “Some like to keep on punching until they ease out their tensions.”
After graduating from high school in Jeddah, she moved to San Diego, where she majored in environmental studies and minored in international relations.
“I had already been doing martial arts since the age of 12, starting with karate then moving on to different arts. I have a black belt in jujitsu,” she said.
“When moving to the US, I wanted to learn how to throw a proper punch, something you don’t find in martial arts. I’ve been training myself in boxing and kickboxing for a long time, starting with Muay Thai... It’s the only form of kickboxing that involves knees and elbows.
“After coming back to Saudi Arabia, as a woman I wasn’t able to find work in my field, so after two years I decided to start personal training. I got my certificate from NASM (the National Academy of Sports Medicine) and have been training clients for 12 years now.
“I receive countless e-mails from women wanting to learn how to box. That’s their biggest attraction. It’s new and interesting for them, and they do it as a workout. I find it incredible how many women are excited about this sport.”
Her gym Flagboxing — an acronym for Fight Like A Girl — is an all-women’s facility. Classes include boxing, kickboxing, crossfit, calisthenics and tabata.
Usually classes start with a five-minute warm up, moving on to light weights to strengthen shoulders, then high-intensity cardio with a heavy bag.
After that there is conditioning such as push-ups, jump squats, sit ups and abs training, ending with stretching to cool down.
Al-Hamrani said she has never been physically attacked, but knows how to defend herself in such a situation.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.