Extreme-sports star hails the transformation of Saudi Arabia

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Sommer, who began skydiving in 2007, has completed jumps and in many countries around the world, including China, Brazil and a number of locations in the Middle East. (Photo/ Laura Alho)
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The Norwegian professional skydiver, BASE jumper and wingsuit flyerJokke Sommer flies over Al-Soudah. (Photo/ Laura Alho)
Updated 06 September 2019
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Extreme-sports star hails the transformation of Saudi Arabia

  • The nature at Al-Soudah was very beautiful as well; it was green and surprising, says Jokke Sommer

AL-SOUDAH: The tourism mega projects that are underway in Saudi Arabia will change the world’s perception of the Kingdom, according to extreme-sports athlete Jokke Sommer. The Norwegian professional skydiver, BASE jumper and wingsuit flyer recently displayed his aerial skills in Asir region as part of the Al-Soudah summer festival season, and said that he had a very good experience during his stay. He urged others to visit and see the Kingdom for themselves, and how differs from the preconceptions they might have, based on a misleading image often projected by the international media.
“Once Saudi opens up tourism more, this will change automatically,” he said. “People will see the country is not what people or the media have told them.”
Sommer, who began skydiving in 2007, has completed jumps and in many countries around the world, including China, Brazil and a number of locations in the Middle East. He said that Saudi Arabia compares favorably.
“What makes Al-Soudah cool is mostly the people the culture and the fact that everyone is curious about what we are doing and so open and peaceful,” he said. He added that he was also impressed by the terrain and natural beauty of the mountainous Asir region, which was perfect for the wingsuit flyers taking part in the festival.
“The nature there was very beautiful as well; it was green and surprising,” said Sommer. “We normally think the Middle East is a lot of sand and rocks but it was really nice to fly over green
as well.”

FASTFACT

Wingsuit jumpers wear a suit that has extra fabric between the legs and under the arms. This allows them to glide great distances after jumping from an aircraft or from a jump point, increasing their time in the air before deploying a parachute.

However, it was the people of Asir that really made his first visit to the Kingdom feel special, he added, despite receiving negative comments from some people around the world when he told them he was visiting Saudi Arabia.
“When you are [in the Kingdom] and you see it, you see that women are treated with more respect than in the western world,” he said. “It’s very strange because the whole concept is that Saudi Arabia and its people are not free, in that sense. I feel that Saudi Arabians are such peaceful people who simply just enjoy life.”
Wingsuit jumpers wear a suit that has extra fabric between the legs and under the arms. This allows them to glide great distances after jumping from an aircraft or from a jump point, increasing their time in the air before deploying a parachute. BASE jumping involved parachuting or wingsuit flying from from fixed points or objects. BASE is an acronym for building, antenna, span (such as a bridge) and earth (such as a cliff or mountainside). Jumps by Sommer have been featured in a number of internet videos and web series.


King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

Updated 6 min 51 sec ago

King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

  • Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz
  • The rapper, singer, designer, model and now actor considers himself a 'Saudi ambassador of arts to the US' 

RIYADH: With his long dreadlocked hair, handsome Arabian looks and a quiet disposition, Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz in “Born a King.”

His family history runs deep with the Al-Saud family. “My great grandfather fought alongside King Abdul Aziz,” Rakan told Arab News.  

His family’s lineage goes back to the days of King Abdulaziz as they are considered the official “Al-Arda” dance performers. They have been performing the pre-war and celebratory dance for over a century, before the founding of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

His uncle, Salah Abdulwahid, is featured in the movie, as the main Al-Arda performer.

The Saudi actor felt a connection to the founder of the Kingdom, not only physically resembling the king, but also embodying his charisma.

Before the shooting of the movie, he began reading up on anything he could get his hands on to learn more about the founder’s personality, to try and pefect his character and do him justice on the big screen.

Born in the US and raised in the Kingdom, and an avid athlete in his youth, he was a soccer player until he broke his hip in a tournament.

The multitalented actor not only shines through on the big screen, but is a rapper, singer, model and designer. As a lover of the arts in all forms, he believes that culture can build bridges across the world.

He has vowed to represent his country in a positive manner while breaking stereotypes about Saudi Arabia. He also speaks French, English and Spanish fluently.

The actor obtained four degrees in just 7 years, having majored in industrial engineering with a minor in business and math from Northeastern University.

He later continued his education and received his master’s in engineering project management and an MBA certificate in global supply chain management. However, that didn’t stop him from taking law classes at Harvard for a semester.

As a child he would write 300-page stories, cooked passionately and danced with abandonment.

He returned to his homeland to play one of the most influential people in the Kingdom’s history: Its founder King Abdul Aziz.