Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic

Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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Maya Farsi (10) and Zuhair Farsi (5) at climbing classes
Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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Saudi national Nada Farsi is proud mother to two children, Maya and Zuhair, who attend the summer camp.
Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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Children from 4 to 12 years are recruited into the South Kensington 'Fit for Sport' camp.
Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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A large variety of sports and fitness activities are encouraged at the summer camp, so that children always feel included.
Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic
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The west London-based summer camp ‘Fit for Sport’ has seen record numbers of visiting Arab children signing up for nine-weeks of activities. (AN photos)
Updated 26 August 2017

Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic

Saudi kids flock to London fitness camps amid regional obesity epidemic

LONDON: Saudi visitors to London are turning to fitness camps to give their kids a vacation workout.
The west London-based summer camp Fit for Sport has seen record numbers of visiting Arab children signing up for nine weeks of activities, the firm’s owner Dean Horridge told Arab News.
He said 70 percent of the camp’s pupils are Arabs, hailing from countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
With the camp’s upmarket South Kensington site just a stone’s throw from Hyde Park, 110 children are coached in daily activities such as swimming and rock climbing, from July to September, at a cost of around £240 ($309) per week.
“We work a lot with the local Arab embassies. The children come to London in the summer months as the Gulf region is too hot,” said Horridge, who runs summer camps across the country and works with 250 UK schools to provide after-class activities and PE curriculum support.
“Our camps are a great chance to showcase how it feels to be active and, more importantly, how much better the children feel after activity,” he added.
“Initially there’s a reluctance for children to get involved in the sports activities we provide, but very quickly they realize this is fun. The difficulty is trying to convey that back to the parent.”
Horridge said he welcomes the UAE’s recent move to raise the price of soft drinks and energy drinks by up to 100 percent.
“Some of the children come with lunchboxes that are full of junk and don’t have the right food. Some of them have nannies that bring the food at lunchtime. No 7-year-old needs a bucket of rice for lunch, but they’ll eat it just because it’s part of life and the norm,” he said.
“We encourage some healthy snacks like apples, which help children to lose weight. The kids start off very unfit, so we have to embed a program that builds up their confidence and makes them gradually fitter. We have to be careful as we don’t want to damage their self-esteem.”
Dr. Nada Farsi, a Saudi dentist based in London for the summer months, has enrolled her children Maya (10) and Zahair (5) in the South Kensington summer camp.
“They love it very much. They’re happy doing different activities, such as lots of walking to museums and parks,” she told Arab News.
“It’s the nature of the city, and they always get excited by looking at how many steps they’ve done.”
Farsi said she leads an active lifestyle and goes to an adult boot camp three times a week. “Physical health is so important, and I want to pass that on to my children,” she added.
“I also send the children to basketball and soccer classes in Jeddah for four hours a week. In the beginning they found it hard, but now they enjoy it as they’re used to it.”
She said levels of obesity in Jeddah concern her. “I see many obese kids. They shouldn’t be that obese, and I wonder how they’ll fare into adulthood.”
Farsi urged more government initiatives to encourage physical activity among the population. “PE lessons for girls have just been implemented, but we need more. We need more sidewalks and cycle lanes,” she said.
“We want to walk but we can’t. I miss this in Saudi Arabia. We need more parks and green places.”
Sin taxes, such as those introduced in Saudi Arabia and the UAE on sugary drinks, could help quell the region’s child obesity epidemic and encourage more active lifestyles, said Sonia Saxena, professor of primary care and head of the child health unit at the School of Public Health, Imperial College, London.
“The UK government has introduced similar measures but they don’t go far enough,” Saxena said. “This move from the UAE is bold and very welcome.”
She added that raising the price of soft drinks has already been proven to reduce obesity in countries such as Mexico. “All the evidence shows this is a good move,” she said.
The researcher, who is a visiting coach for the Dubai government on child obesity issues, added that soft drinks have “considerable sugar,” which can contribute to obesity in children and adults.
“Children and adults also need to eat five fruit and vegetables a day, decrease their sedentary activity and screen time, and increase exercise activity,” Saxena said.
“Most importantly, there needs to be a regional change in the culture. There has to be a culture that permits and promotes children to be active.”
Horridge said regional governments should take a 360-degree approach. “It’s a partnership between schools and parents to get kids active. If you don’t get kids active and eating healthily from an early age, children become overweight, disengaged and very lazy,” he said.
“Unfortunately, if that’s embedded at a young age it lasts a lifetime. This is very important to prevent issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”


Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister receives Pakistan army chief

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister receives Pakistan army chief
Updated 12 min 34 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister receives Pakistan army chief

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister receives Pakistan army chief

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, received Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Prince Khalid said in a Tweet, early on Friday, that the pair had discussed “defense relations and affirm our two countries’ goal to preserve regional peace and stability.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will begin a three-day visit to the Kingdom on Friday.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are expected to sign a landmark climate deal during the visit, according to Pakistan’s climate minister.
In meetings with the Saudi leadership, Khan will cover all areas of bilateral cooperation including economics, trade, investment, environment, energy, job opportunities for the Pakistani workforce, and the welfare of the diaspora in the Kingdom.


Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end
Updated 45 min 47 sec ago

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

JEDDAH: The culture of volunteer work is an important part of Muslim society throughout the year but especially during Ramadan. This is a time of deep faith during which positive behavior and selfless acts are encouraged.

Nowhere is this more evident during the holy month than in the halls of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, where volunteers from the public and private sectors and charities work tirelessly to maintain it and serve pilgrims from around the world.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, represented by the General Administration for the Coordination of Voluntary Work, said it has been working to recruit these volunteers and provide them and staff at the mosque with the training they need to ensure that their work is carried out in accordance with all the precautions that are in place protect the health and safety of pilgrims.

It has made efforts to spread the culture of volunteer work, improve its effectiveness and increase volunteer opportunities by adopting the latest methods and best supportive practices. By the beginning of Ramadan, 132 volunteers were working at the mosque each day.

The presidency said that some of the most important volunteer activities include helping elderly and disabled people to move through the mosque, organizing prayer rooms and corridors, monitoring security cameras at the entrances, and ensuring that social distancing rules are followed.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has also stepped up its voluntary activities during Ramadan, and has deployed throughout the mosque medical and emergency teams equipped with the latest medical equipment and supplies.

The authority revealed that 500 of its volunteers are working at the mosque during Ramadan, and added that during the last 10 days of the holy month it aims to increase the number of hours of voluntary work. It also provides buses to transport volunteers from Jeddah and within Makkah to the Grand Mosque.


PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’
Updated 07 May 2021

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’
  • We share a history of cordial relations with Saudi Arabia: Imran Khan

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long-standing and historic fraternal relations, rooted deep in common faith, shared history and mutual support.
The people of Pakistan hold the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in the highest esteem. Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields and we look forward to further strengthen this equation especially our economic ties for our mutual benefit.
Being home to the two holiest cities for the Muslims across the world, Saudi Arabia has a key role in unifying the Muslim Ummah.
Pakistan highly values this role that Saudi Arabia has consistently been playing. One of the key challenges faced by Muslims today is Islamophobia.
It is imperative that the Muslim world takes a united stance against the rising tide of Islamophobia and we all make concerted efforts to sensitize the West about our deep respect for our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and our sensitivities about our religion being linked with terrorism.
I take this opportunity to appreciate various landmark initiatives taken by the visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia. One that requires a special mention is One that requires a special mention is “Saudi Green Initiative” and “Green Middle East Initiative.”
The threat that climate change poses to this planet and our region is real and it is high time for action. Pakistan has already initiated “Clean and Green Pakistan” and “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami.”
We believe that our priorities and goals in this regard are aligned and we can therefore learn a lot by sharing experiences. Pakistan will extend every possible support toward the success of the Green Initiative.
I look forward to my visit to Saudi Arabia and hope my interaction with the Saudi leadership will further strengthen our bilateral relations and will open further avenues for building a strong economic partnership as well as promoting people to people contacts.
I take this opportunity to pay my best regards to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the royal family and the great people of Saudi Arabia.
Long live Pak-Saudi friendship!

• Imran Khan is the prime minister of Pakistan.


The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
Updated 07 May 2021

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
  • Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

JEDDAH: The ancient stone road known as the “caravan route” linking Taif and Makkah is a cultural legacy of great historical value. It was constructed more than 1,000 years ago and was used regularly by pedestrians up to the 1960s.

At the time the road was built, movement between Taif and Makkah was restricted by Al-Qarah Mountain, researcher Hammad Al-Salimi explained. So Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

The winding road made it possible to cross the mountain and was a remarkable feat of engineering, considering the limited technology available at the time of its creation.

“The roads were paved with stones, which made them resemble staircases winding between the top of the mountain in Al-Hada, the Karr below Al-Qarah Mountain, Shaddad and then Wadi Noman,” Al-Salimi said, adding that a third road, for cars, was built in the mid-1960s, during the reign of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.

Al-Salimi said that the two original paths are “important monuments, which should be preserved and maintained because they are part of the Al-Qarah Mountain system and complement the beautiful image of this mountain.”

Historian and writer Saleh Al-Judi explained that — before cars were common in the Kingdom — people would use the route to travel between the two cities, a journey taking around three days. The passage through the mountain, he said, is around six kilometers. In the middle of the route, he added, is a well-known site called Al-Rukb.

He said the route is mentioned in histories from the fifth Hijri century (1009-1106 CE), which say that it had room for pedestrians and animals alike. Al-Qathami stressed the importance of preserving the road as an historical landmark, as it is an important artery linking Taif and Makkah.


Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims
Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.