Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing

Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
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Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Ruba Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 February 2021

Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing

Saudi women find their calling in ‘elegant, exciting’ fencing
  • Saudi female fencers have won 29 medals in recent times, including four bronze medals at the 2016 Arab Games in Riyadh

JEDDAH: For some young Saudis, the virtues of one particular sport — fencing — have turned out to be nothing short of life-affirming.

“Fencing taught me patience, justice and anger management,” said 21-year-old women’s fencer Ruba Al-Masri.

In the elegant centuries-old sport, it seems she has, alongside many young Saudi female athletes, found her calling.

Inspired by her father’s athletic career, Al-Masri took up fencing three years ago, and has since claimed silver and gold medals in local and international championships.

“From a young age, I used to see pictures of my father and the medals that he achieved during his career,” Al-Masri told Arab News. “My family were my first supporters to tell me to follow the footsteps of my father and begin my journey.”

Since Saudi women first took part in the 2016 Olympics, the country has witnessed increasing female participation in sports. And fencing has turned out to be the most attractive.

“Until now, the number of Saudi female fencers exceeded 200, and work has been done this year to graduate the first five female referees in the history of Saudi fencing,” President of the Saudi Arabian Fencing Federation Ahmed Al-Sabban told Arab News.

Women’s participation in the sport began as recently as 2015 in the Eastern Province, Al-Sabban said, adding that female fencers from the region traveled to Bahrain to practice the sport. One of those fencers, Lubna Al-Omair, was chosen to take part in the 2016 Olympics.

“After that, about three women’s academies were established, starting from 2017 in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam,” he said. “We are working to have female fencing academies in all regions of the Kingdom.”

Fencing has been practiced in the Kingdom since the 1960s, Al-Sabban said, pointing to its origins at the Seven Palaces Schools in Jeddah. Many expatriates who moved to Dhahran after the discovery of oil in the Kingdom also played a role in introducing the sport to Saudis.

According to Al-Sabban, the sport first became popular in the Eastern Province and Tabuk, and then spread to all regions of the country. Today, the Saudi Fencing Federation operates academies in Jeddah, Riyadh, Taif, Madinah, Tabuk and the Eastern Province.

The hard work has paid off.

Al-Masri began fencing in April 2018 when she joined the Summer Olympic Fencing Program launched by the Saudi Fencing Federation.

“Fencing is an exciting, interesting sport,” said Al-Masri “It improves the player personality in terms of commitment and accuracy.”

She added that the sport “requires use of all the senses simultaneously, which improves one’s quick wit and observation.”

Coupled with the benefits of physical activity, fencing can boost general health, she said.

From the outset, Al-Masri was fascinated by the uniqueness of the sport in terms of equipment, outfits and techniques.

“Honestly, one of the most attractive things I found in this sport was the elegance of the fencing outfit, and how it is different from other sports,” she said. “I also find it comfortable because it covers almost the entire body.”

After winning a gold in the first Women’s Fencing Championship in the Kingdom, Al-Masri has gone on to represent Saudi Arabia internationally in Egypt, Tunisia, Kuwait, Jordan and the Philippines.

“I also learned that success does not start only from the first gold medal,” she added. “Instead, it begins with persistence and progress.”

Now Al-Masri has ambitions to participate in the Tokyo Olympics and has set her sights on becoming the first Saudi woman to win a gold medal. She also wants to achieve success in Asian championships and the Fencing World Cup.

“Fencing does not require specific physical criteria, therefore everyone can practice it at any age,” she said. “However, it is preferable to start young if you want to be a champion.”

Al-Sabban agreed, saying that there are no prerequisites for learning fencing. However, he said that there are optimal practices that will help fencers succeed, such as daily training, healthy nutrition, fitness and good sleep.

“The Saudi Fencing Federation continues to be the leader of women’s sports in the Kingdom, outperforming other sports federations,” he said.

“We hope that leadership will continue to support this, that fencing will be the first choice for all women in the Kingdom and that we continue to win gold medals in all tournaments.”

Al-Masri and her colleagues are no doubt dreaming of the same goals.


Saudi Arabia confirms 7 COVID-19 deaths, 799 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 7 COVID-19 deaths, 799 new cases
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 7 COVID-19 deaths, 799 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 7 COVID-19 deaths, 799 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 548 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 10 mosques have been closed after 10 worshippers tested positive for COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded seven new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,754.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 799 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 398,435 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 8,360 remain active and 915 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 362, followed by Makkah with 147, the Eastern Province with 138, Asir recorded 28 and Madinah confirmed 27 cases.

The ministry also announced that 548 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 383,321.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the jab, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs temporarily closed 10 mosques in five regions on Sunday after 10 worshipers tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of mosques closed to 552 within 63 days, 526 of which have been reopened after being sterilized.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 135 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 2.92 million.


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman exchanges Ramadan wishes with Bahraini king

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman exchanges Ramadan wishes with Bahraini king
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman exchanges Ramadan wishes with Bahraini king

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman exchanges Ramadan wishes with Bahraini king

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a phone call from Bahrain’s King Hamad congratulating him on the advent of the month of Ramadan.
King Salman expressed his thanks to King Hamad for the greetings.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 11 April 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition has destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia, news channel Al-Arabiya has reported.

The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthi’s “systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians.”

It said the drone was fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom.  

The bloc said it was taking all necessary operational measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. 


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.