Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations

Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
1 / 6
At a launch event celebrating the team held recently in Riyadh, Akeel and Alobaidan offered advice to young Saudi women who want to follow in their footsteps. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
2 / 6
The young women are aiming to make history as the first Saudi female athletes to take part in the annual Dakar Rally. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
3 / 6
The young women are aiming to make history as the first Saudi female athletes to take part in the annual Dakar Rally. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
4 / 6
Co-Captain Dania Akeel. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
5 / 6
Project Director Iole de Simone. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
6 / 6
Co-Captain Mashael Alobaidan. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Short Url
Updated 30 December 2020

Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations

Two young Saudi ‘Sheroes’ accelerate Dakar Rally preparations
  • Dania Akeel and Mashael Alobaidan hope to become a symbol of the country’s development

RIYADH: Two Saudi women are aiming to make history as the first female athletes from the Kingdom to participate in the annual Dakar Rally, as part of a team dubbed the “Sheroes.”

Co-captains Dania Akeel and Mashael Alobaidan hope to become a symbol of the country’s development and inspire women in Saudi Arabia to pursue their passions and follow their dreams, with a six-month project designed to train them up for the race in 2022.

Akeel, who is also one of Sheroes’ project managers, said that she has been passionate about driving for as long as she can remember. She rode her first quad bike aged 8, and her first 150cc dirt bike in the desert at 14.

“I believe it is only natural for me to partake in one of the most challenging desert championships around the world, which also happens to take place in our sandy backyard,” she said.

Akeel was also the recipient of the “Rookie of the Year” award during her first racing season, for the Ducati Cup in the UAE National Sportbike Super series 2019/2020 season.

Alobaidan, the second driver and project manager, said that she had also been involved in sports and outdoor activities from a young age. In addition to her experience with buggies, dirt bikes, and motorcycles, she is also a Professional Association of Diving Instructors certified advanced scuba and freediver. 

FAST FACTS

• The team will begin their training in February 2021 with a Polaris RZR 1000.

• They intend to compete in 6 SAMF Cross Country and Baja Championship rounds, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in November, before finally reaching their goal of the 2022 Dakar Rally.

“I am excited to be part of Dakar and discover the great outdoor treasures that Saudi Arabia embodies,” she said. “Dakar will be a dream come true.”

Alobaidan also holds a US motorcycle driver’s license and received navigation and safety training in California, US.

Iole de Simone, project director and rider, has trained and developed with various sport teams and disciplines across five countries. She has both competed in and organized local, regional, and international events.

De Simone was the first to contact both Akeel and Alobaidan, and is now looking to expand the team with two more members to meet the four-person requirement of the Dakar Rally.

Dakar will be a dream come true.

Mashael Alobaidan

“We have two potential Saudi ladies who might join us as co-pilots. We’re currently in negotiations with them. I’m also in contact with two Saudi male drivers who participated in last year’s rally,” she told Arab News.

She said that the team was also hoping to get the first female Saudi dirtbiker to join them as well.

“We are planning on launching an Instagram page where we will advertise what we are looking for. Everything was slowed down because of the coronavirus pandemic, but we are still moving forward,” she added.

Behind the team stand two coaches: Poles Marek Dabrowski and Jacek Czachor, who together achieved five CC FIM World Championship titles, and have collectively participated in the Dakar Rally 15 times.

These two legends of the sport will be teaching the team how to transfer their bike skills to the car they intend to drive during the 2022 Dakar Rally.

Find what you’re passionate about, and just go for it.

Dana Akeel

In addition to the coaches, the team also includes Filip Dabrowski, a professional team manager for the Dakar Rally and Cross Country World Championship events. He has been active in the sport since 2004, and has completed 13 rallies.

The team will begin their training in February 2021 with a Polaris RZR 1000. Following that, they intend to compete in 6 SAMF Cross Country and Baja Championship rounds, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in November, before finally reaching their goal of the 2022 Dakar Rally.

At a launch event celebrating the team held recently in Riyadh, Akeel and Alobaidan offered advice to young Saudi women who want to follow in their footsteps.

“The best advice that I’ve ever gotten was ‘if it’s good for you and it’s good for everyone else, you should follow it.’ For me, racing and competing and driving pushes me towards excellence. This is what I would advise others to do,” Akeel said.

“Find what you’re passionate about, and just go for it. Even if you see obstacles, just bear with them. Try to overcome them and achieve your dreams. It’s all about passion,” she concluded.


Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub

Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub
Updated 56 min 35 sec ago

Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub

Saudi crown prince launches 50bn riyal strategy to turn Asir into global tourism hub
  • The strategy for Saudi Arabia's “The Arabian Highlands" will seek foreign and domestic investment
  • Aims to make the region a year-round destination

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a 50 billion riyal ($13 billion) tourism strategy for Asir that aims to attract more than 10 million visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom by 2030.

The plan for the region, under the theme “The Arabian Highland,” aims to be a “comprehensive and unprecedented development renaissance for the region, by pumping 50 billion riyals through various investments,” Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The investments include financing projects and developing tourist attractions on the peaks of Asir’s mountains to turn the province into a year-round destination.

The projects will rely on the area’s cultural and natural strengths that combine “authenticity and modernity,” and help advance social and economic growth in the region.

The crown prince, who is also chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said the strategy aims to exploit the huge tourism potential in the region including the geographical and natural diversity, and rich culture and heritage.

The strategy seeks to attract local and foreign investments and help make tourism and culture major drivers of Asir’s economic development.

It will help provide new job opportunities, raise the quality of life, and upgrade basic services and infrastructure in the region.

Asir’s governor Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz thanked the crown prince for his “continuous support and generous care for the Asir region and its people.”


Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque
Updated 28 September 2021

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: President General for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais inaugurated the Field and Digital Saudi Expansions at the Grand Mosque Exhibition.

Al-Sudais said that the exhibition showcases the most prominent Saudi projects and expansions at the Grand Mosque. The exhibition also aims to enrich visitors’ experience and highlight the efforts of the Saudi leadership in this regard.


Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
  • The average time spent training and following up with students reached 7,000 hours for some students

JEDDAH: Three thousand scholarships were granted to students by King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) during the foundation’s three-day Saudi National Day celebrations.
The educational and training scholarships covering various scientific fields are part of Mawhiba’s three-day photography exhibition, “A home for every talent ... a story for every passion,” held under the auspices of Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mutahmi, secretary-general of the foundation, at Granada Mall in Riyadh.
Mawhiba students in the Kingdom who have undergone training programs have achieved significant international achievements: 453 international awards in scientific competitions and 83 awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair, the most important scientific competition in the world.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, students were granted scholarships after completing their training. The average time spent training and following up with students, from discovering their talent to their participation at an international level, has reached 7,000 hours for some students.
“The exhibition, which has witnessed a high turnout of visitors from different segments of society, chose to replace regular gifts and prizes by gifting participants opportunities to improve their future, raise the quality of their lives and work with them to discover, develop and guide their children’s talents properly,” Mawhiba said in an official statement.
The 91-picture exhibition followed the journey of some of the Kingdom’s talents, starting with scouting them to winning awards and the empowerment of talented students in institutions across
Saudi Arabia.
The Mawhiba exhibition was divided into three parts. The first is a photo exhibition for students who have won local and international competitions.
The second is an interactive theater with general competitions, various questions, and free scientific scholarships. The third included the “I am a talent” event for children, featuring activities on creative thinking skills, a drawing competition about the Kingdom, and documentaries by Mawhiba and its programs.


Who’s Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who’s Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh
Updated 28 September 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who’s Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil was recently appointed as secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh following Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah’s decision.

Al-Zamil is the former supervisor of the Deanship of Library Affairs at King Saudi University in Riyadh, where he worked for the past 20 years.

He joined King Saudi University in 2008 as an associate professor at the Department of Library and Information Sciences. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and then to professor in 2018.

Prior to that, Al-Zamil worked at the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh, where he served as an associate professor between 2002 and 2008 and lecturer between 1991 and 1999.

Al-Zamil received his bachelor’s degree with a second-class honors in library and information studies from the Department of Literature at King Saud University. After that, he moved to the US to complete his higher education in library and information studies. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and his Ph.D. from the Public University of Florida. He participated in various regional and international conferences. His research interests include e-government, digital libraries, e-learning and distance learning, and research methodologies in the libraries and information field.

He is a member of several scientific and academic societies, including the Saudi Library and Information Association, the Saudi Computer Society, and the Beta Phi Mu International Honor Society for library and information studies.

The King Fahd National Library in Riyadh is one of the most prestigious libraries in Saudi Arabia. It was established as a monument on the occasion of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz ascending to the throne in 1982.

The library is one of the most important cultural buildings in Saudi Arabia and an architectural masterpiece. It was designed by Professor Eckhard Gerber and his Gerber Architekten team in cooperation with the Riyadh Municipality, which provided the land and technical, architectural, and administrative supervision.


Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
Updated 28 September 2021

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
  • They show how people of the city shaped a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs

MAKKAH: Ten museums in Makkah have opened their doors to showcase Makkah’s unique identity throughout history.

The museums house some of the rarest artifacts, illustrations, and collections that reveal the human experiences of the city.

They show how the people of Makkah managed to shape a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs and the progress made after the prophecy and its noble teachings came into existence.

The museums also contribute to raising cultural and humanitarian awareness with all their cognitive messages and elaboration of the life of fathers and grandfathers.

The Culture Ministry’s Museums Commission told Arab News that it is giving Al-Zaher Palace Museum special attention, hoping to reopen the museum to visitors as soon as possible after it was closed due to the pandemic.

The director of the Makkah History Center, Dr. Fawwaz Al-Dahhas, told Arab News that the museums have put in extraordinary efforts to further the Islamic, civilizational and cultural heritage of the city. 

The museums include Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era.

He added: “It’s best that the efforts are united under the auspices of one national museum called ‘Makkah throughout history,’ where visitors can expand what they needed to know about Makkah.” 

Al-Dahhas said that developing the Al-Saqaf Palace in the Maabad neighborhood would combine heritage and culture through its restoration. Once completed, it will become an Islamic museum.

In his book “The Presidential Palace in Maabad,” Al-Dahhas described the surface area of the palace and its rooms still have their original furnishings and design.

Saad Al-Sharif, a researcher in Makkah’s history, said museums are essential to educate societies and advance science and evolution. “A student can leave a museum knowing that they would like to become a scientist, a leader, a musician or a writer,” he said.

FASTFACT

The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition is one of the most prominent museums in Saudi Arabia and is home to treasures and artifacts dating back more than 1,400 years. Opened in 2000 during the reign of the late King Fahd, it contains seven main halls highlighting Islamic civilization.

“Our society’s knowledge must be consolidated and presented through the museums to form a harmonious cultural structure. Some museums teach what the classrooms students do not teach,” Al-Sharif added.

The researcher said tourists always look for museums in new countries as “we believe them to be the true wealth of any people; ancient collections in those museums constitute an important source for society, as well as economic, social and cultural support, as they provide a rich and different experience for visitors, and express a person’s identity, existence and depth and authenticity of their culture.”

Al-Sharif said that Saudi museums inspire delight and that they illustrate a history they could only learn about through museums and their evidence, tools, places, and names.

Majdouh Al-Ghamdi, owner of the Museum of Human Heritage, said that Makkah’s museums complement each other and exhibit their rare heritage artifacts for all visitors.

Its exhibits include household appliances used in Makkah before electricity was introduced, a section on Saudi tribes, and displays on the role of the city’s residents in serving pilgrims and the history of the ancient Madrasah Al-Sawlatiyah, one of the oldest schools in the Arabian Peninsula.

It also includes Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era. Visitors will also discover weapons such as cannons, knives, daggers, swords and guns.

Al-Ghamdi said that museums offer full knowledge and satisfy people looking to feel passion about heritage. They feel content in the historical depth and wealth of Makkah in particular, he added. He said that all those museums seek to occasionally develop their exhibits by buying rare stamps, newspapers, maps, coins, rifles, swords, old household items, spears, and traditional clothes.