Saudi girls aim — and kick — high

Saudi girls aim — and kick — high
Amira Al-Agha in action. AN photo
Updated 18 April 2018

Saudi girls aim — and kick — high

Saudi girls aim — and kick — high
  • Al-Agha says the number of girls wanting to learn Taekwondo is increasing
  • Al-Agha believes men and women in Saudi society have become much more respectful of any female who has struggled to learn the skills of a sport

JEDDAH: Saudi girls have started taking martial arts seriously. Some of them have even received international recognition by winning gold in various competitions.
This is a bad news for those who have long enjoyed harassing women in the streets or malls, as they may be about to receive a lesson that they will never forget.
Amira Al-Agha, 20, is one of a new generation of women taking up the sport.
Al-Agha told Arab News that she started learning martial arts five years ago when she was 15. “I was just trying it with an international coach who decided to establish the first Saudi Taekwondo team,” she said.
She said that her family expected her interest to last no longer than two months. However, she said: “I continued training until the Saudi Arabian Taekwondo Federation crowned my efforts with a black belt, along with other five girls. We took an oath to observe the tenets of Taekwondo and to not misuse it.”
According to Al-Agha, they were the first group of Saudi women to become holders of black belt.
Her family gave her the green light to attend training sessions, but when she told them that she had been chosen to represent the Kingdom in a competition in Jordan she faced resistance.
“This was something uncommon in my society. Nonetheless, my family hesitatingly agreed. They accompanied me on my trip to Jordan,” she said.
After that competition, where Al-Agha won a gold medal, things changed as the Al-Agha’s realized that a member of the family might one day be an Olympic athlete. They started to unreservedly encourage their daughter and told her that she could freely go anywhere to represent her country.
Al-Agha told Arab News that she gained self-confidence through the sport. She said that, unlike before, she could stand before any gathering and talk in a self-assured way.
“Taekwondo is not an aggressive sport, as many people think, but rather a sport that fills you with confidence. I can now go out without being afraid that I might find myself in a difficult situation. Now I know what to do.” She said that sport, in general, teaches patience, self-control and how to quickly and effectively think or respond to situations.
“I was an eyewitness to a traffic accident one day. Although other people handled everything, I felt like I could composedly interfere and help. I did not have that feeling before Taekwondo; I would just oversee from a distance.”
Al-Agha said the number of girls wanting to learn Taekwondo is increasing. “There are now many girls who want to acquire self-defense skills. Some of my university friends are willing to receive training,” she said. When she first started five years ago there were at the most 10 girls learning martial arts. "Now there are more than 30 who are attending private training sessions,” she said.
Al-Agha said that she is now doing training courses to get enough coaching experience to set up her own Taekwondo training center. However, it will not take her away from her studies — she is a biology junior student at King Abdul Aziz University — Taekwondo will remain a hobby.
“Education is my top priority, then comes my hobby. After graduation, I may work in a hospital or laboratory, for instance, and I will continue to be a Taekwondo enthusiast,” she said.
Al-Agha believes men and women in Saudi society have become much more respectful of any female who has struggled to learn the skills of a sport, and says that she is determined to achieve all her goals.
“Practicing sports never degrade a woman. It gives her respect and support. The General Sports Authority — the highest sports governing body in Saudi Arabia — is doing its best to support us,” she said.
She advised her female compatriots to learn Taekwondo, or any other martial art so that they can defend themselves when they need to.


What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. (Supplied)
Updated 10 May 2021

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely

What Saudi citizens need to know to travel safely
  • COVID-19 insurance mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel

JEDDAH: With one week to go before international travel resumes, Saudis are being encouraged to cover all the necessary basics before leaving the country.

During a joint press conference on Sunday, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) shared new instructions and updated travel insurance policies for all Saudis wishing to travel abroad following a previous announcement stating the four categories allowed.
Ibrahim Alrwosa, GACA official spokesman, outlined the new travel procedures for citizens, health protocols followed at airports, and the shipment, transport and reception of vaccines at the Kingdom’s airports.
“After a week, our airports will witness the resuming of flights for citizens starting 1 a.m. We call on everyone to thoroughly follow the set health precautions to achieve a completely safe trip,” said Alrwosa, adding that the authority will update its safety instructions to add COVID-19 health measures in a new leaflet.
Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders.
Alrwosa stressed that travelers follow their country of destination’s health precautions to avoid any problems.

HIGHLIGHT

Travelers will not be allowed into airports or planes without showing their health statuses through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna. Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders. 

Meanwhile, CCHI spokesman, Othman Al-Qasabi, revealed that the new insurance policy will include benefits that cover the risks of COVID-19 infection, and that it is mandatory for those under the age of 18 wishing to travel.
“This is in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank. Persons vaccinated with two doses, first dose, and immune by recovery with the required timeline, will have the travel insurance available for them, but it has been made mandatory for those under the age of 18 to reduce the risks accompanied by the virus.”
The travel insurance, which is only valid for 30 days, will cover emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19 such as emergency rooms, urgent care and transportation. It also covers quarantine-related accommodation costs, medical evacuation and issues related to canceling flights due to COVID-19 conditions.
“These new benefits have been added to the already existing travel insurance benefits.”
The council revealed that a consortium of 12 companies has been approved for people to receive travel insurance from, with Tawuniya Insurance Company chosen to lead the alliance.


King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority
Updated 10 May 2021

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

King Salman appoints Abanmi as governor of Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority

RIYADH: King Salman has issued a royal order appointing Suhail bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Abanmi as governor of the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, with the rank of minister, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced on Saturday.

The new body is a merger of the former General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT), which Abanmi headed since 2017, and the Saudi Customs, of which he was named acting governor since March.

Abanmi has worked as an executive in various private companies and government agencies, including as head of business development and manager of the Tadawulaty program, general supervisor of the Ministry of Commerce’s agency for internal trade, and member of the advisory committee for the Capital Market Authority.


Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh

Saudi crown prince allocates 20 million square meters for housing units north of Riyadh
  • The additional lands will provide more than 53,000 various housing units
  • Riyadh aims to become one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed the allocation of 20 million square meters for new residential land north of Riyadh.
The ownership will be transferred to the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing, and is part of a drive to improve the housing sector and hep families, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The allocation aims to increase the residential area of ​​Al-Jawan suburb from 10 million square meters to 30 million square meters, and build up to 53,000 housing units through integrated projects, facilities and services in partnership with the private sector. This is on top of the 20,000 housing units that have already been announced.
Support for the housing sector has led to Saudi home ownership increasing from 47 percent to 60 percent in the last four years.
The Kingdom hope that figure will reach 70 percent under the Vision 2030 reform programs.
“The additional lands allocated to the housing sector north of Riyadh will provide more than 53,000 various housing units that real estate developers will work on, taking into account the quality of services that meet the aspirations of citizens,” the statement said.
The move is also in line with the city’s growth with the aim of becoming one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world and an increase in population from 15 to 20 million by 2030.
Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majed Al-Hogail said the housing sector contributes more than SR115 billion ($30.6 million) to GDP and provides about 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Riyadh’s housing sector has witnessed rapid growth over the past two years.


UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    
Updated 10 May 2021

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

UAE condemns Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait    

RIYADH: The UAE repeated its “strong condemnation and denunciation” of the Iran-backed Houthi militia launching drone attacks at innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.

The comments come after the latest attempted attack on the Kingdom’s southern regions. The Arab coalition said on Sunday that an explosives-laden drones was intercepted after it was launched towards Khamis Mushait. 

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the latest drone attack showed Houthi's “blatant defiance of the safety of the international community and its disregard for all international laws.”

The UAE said it stands against any threat to Saudi Arabia’s security and stability.


Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday
Updated 10 May 2021

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday

Weather warnings issued across Saudi Arabia until Friday
  • Civil defense warns of thunderstorms and risk of flooding in some areas

RIYADH: Weather warnings have been issued for several regions across Saudi Arabia from Monday until Friday, the Kingdom’s civil defense said on Sunday.
The authority warned of thunderstorms with moderate to heavy rain and brisk winds that may lead to torrential flows in Asir, Al-Baha, Jazan, Najran, and Makkah.
The regions of Madinah, Qassim, Hail, the Northern Borders Province, Al-Jawf, and Tabuk will be affected by moderate rain, while the Eastern Province will be affected by light to moderate rain.
The warnings were based on data from the National Center of Meteorology.
Lt. Col. Mohammed Al-Hammadi, civil defense spokesman, called on everyone to be wary of the potential dangers of severe weather conditions, to stay away from places that could flood, and to abide by the civil defense’s instructions and updates announced through media and social media outlets.