The story of the Jeddah Cycling Ladies club

The story of the Jeddah Cycling Ladies club
Participants at bicycle race for women organised by the Saudi Cycling Federation in Riyadh. (AN file photo by Rashid Hassan)
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Updated 11 July 2021

The story of the Jeddah Cycling Ladies club

The story of the Jeddah Cycling Ladies club
  • Hakim went to basketball and volleyball matches when she was young which, she said, is where her love for sports and movement came from
  • Hakim went to Al-Wehda FC in Makkah, where she and her father were accompanied by well-known sports commentators

MAKKAH: Nisreen Hakim and her friend Ashwaq Al-Hazmi are the founders of Jeddah Cycling Ladies, with club members traveling distances exceeding 100km and taking part in races.

Hakim went to basketball and volleyball matches when she was young which, she said, is where her love for sports and movement came from.

“He used to take me and my younger brother to attend matches such as basketball and volleyball in the King Abdul Aziz Sports City in Makkah,” she told Arab News. “I used to listen to the sounds of the audience, their enthusiasm and encouragement. That atmosphere was ideal for me, and it sparked within me the spirit of passion for sports and games.”

Hakim also went to Al-Wehda FC in Makkah, where she and her father were accompanied by well-known sports commentators such as Mohammed Ramadan and Zahid Qudsi. “I always saw them when they visited our house. Our home was like a sports center of all stripes and tendencies. That's how I became attached to sports since childhood.”

She and her friends travel from the waterfront, through the lakes to the historic Al-Balad district, and back to the starting point. Team members ride for 90 minutes every day.

Sport has shaped Hakim’s personality and self-esteem. Cycling symbolizes independence for her, and it has also had positive repercussions for her mental health.

“I was exposed to a family problem during that time. My psychological state was affected and, because I am a person who loves to move, I used to ride a bike alone. I did not have a bike at that time, so I used to rent one to ride around and practice cycling. What helped me the most is the presence of people in Jeddah who are open to cultures and arts due to the diversity of ethnicities and backgrounds.”

But her journey from being an amateur cyclist to a professional one has been tiring. 

“Cycling has its professional methods that must be mastered and inspired by global experience,” she added. “I feel that I am still at the beginning of the road, despite my hard training and the hundreds of kilometers that I travel daily, but it is a sport that requires patience, passion and love. Fortunately, for me, the period of my attachment to this sport coincided with allowing women to drive. This has helped me a lot in overcoming obstacles and moving to more professional and dynamic stages.”

Hakim was practicing cycling as a hobby when she met Al-Hazmi and suggested establishing a team to Ashraf Bamatraf, the leader of the Jeddah cycling team. “He was very impressed with the idea and, together, we founded the Jeddah women's cyclist club.”

She said she had benefited from global experiments in terms of preparation and training, although Saudi roads were not designed for cycling and did not have the sport in mind. Cyclists in the Kingdom were, however, able to stick to safety procedures such as wearing helmets, having lights and reflectors, and using the correct lanes.

“Fortunately, girls can now practice it with our team, which has women captains to maintain some degree of privacy, in addition to adhering to all safety measures, the most important of which is wearing a helmet. Moreover, there are special training courses for girls who cannot ride bikes. They are taught how to maintain their balance and other basic skills.”

The team meets at the Sheraton on the waterfront, with groups based on fitness levels. 

“Members of the basic group ride for a distance of 20km, while the distance for the medium fitness group is 25km. The distance for high fitness members is 30km. Most of the training sessions are in the evening and we set out from the headquarters of the Jeddah cyclists to Abhur through the waterfront.”


Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 29 January 2022

Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • Diplomats: Spreading truth about climate change is important

RIYADH: Spreading the truth about climate change and the need for sustainability is very important in relation to a changing climate, and how it impacts life on Earth, said panelists at a discussion hosted by the Swedish and Swiss embassies to the Kingdom.

Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouvé and his Swiss counterpart André Schaller jointly organized the discussion on climate and sustainability perspectives on Thursday night, at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh, where some of the best drivers in motorsport have gathered ahead of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The much anticipated first race on Friday night begins with a double-header in Diriyah, promising an exhilarating race experience using electric cars.

Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouvé speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Run under LED lights at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Riyadh, the night races, which will take place on Jan. 28 and 29, are being held in the Kingdom for the fourth consecutive year since the venue joined the calendar in 2018.

Speaking to Arab News, Trouvé said: “We had an important discussion in the panel. The occasion why we are here is the ABB-sponsored Formula E race. What is interesting now is the feel here in the Kingdom, and also of course in Sweden and Switzerland and the rest of the world, the enormous push that we feel now for sustainable green solutions.

Switzerland ambassador André Schaller speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

“As I shared with the audience here at the discussion, almost half of the new cars that were sold in Sweden last year were non-carbon, nonfossil, i.e electric or hybrid cars. Around the world, we now see an enormous push for electric vehicles like the Formula E races, as we will see on Friday night in Diriyah.

“Sweden and Switzerland’s embassies co-hosted the panel discussion, and we are both at the forefront, we want to cooperate with the Kingdom, we want co-creation and innovation together with our Saudi friends and we are ready for business and investment to make the Vision 2030 a reality so that Saudi Arabia also can continue on this very important role towards the sustainable carbon-free future,”said the envoy.

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Schaller said: “Congratulation to Saudi Arabia and also to the ABB for bringing Formula E World Championship races to Diriyah for the fourth consecutive time. It is a race to the future — for the sustainable future — and it also crosses the rich history and heritage in the Kingdom in front of the wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It’s also about the message, the message that if you can do races like this with sustainable and renewable energy-backed electric cars, you can apply the same for commercial vehicles,” said Schaller adding “these cars do not carry passengers, but it carries an important message.”

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle said: “We are delighted to be back to Diriyah for the fourth time, Saudi Arabia is one of the features in the race series of our global calendar. For the last two years we were not able to host the fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are happy to host the fans this time, that’ great news.

“We will be doing the live race for the second time ever under the lights, and this is going to be carbon neutral using electric vehicles, and LED lighting. All of the energy consumed for the race is biofuel.”

Another panelist, Mohammed Al-Mousa, county managing director of ABB Saudi Arabia, said that technology leader ABB has played a crucial role over years in the Kingdom and is keen to continue the success story of demonstrating sustainable energy commitment, e-mobility and carbon neutrality.

 


KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali
Updated 29 January 2022

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

RIYADH:  The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has signed an executive program to support orphans in Mali, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will benefit 1,317 individuals in the cities and towns of Bamako, Koulikoro, Segou, Gao, and Sikasso.

The program was signed by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz, assistant general supervisor for operations and programs at KSrelief, and aims to provide a cash guarantee for orphans which will be delivered to them every three months for a year. 

It will pay fees and register orphans aged between seven and 15, economically empower their families by training women to master sewing skills and provide them with the necessary tools, as well as distributing sheep to needy families.

The program comes as part of the projects offered by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to orphans in order to improve their living conditions in various needy countries.


Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Updated 29 January 2022

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Rabab Khodary has been health economics and  market access manager for hemato-oncology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson and Johnson since May 2021.

During her time in the role, she has helped to accelerate patients’ access to innovative products through operational processes in the public sector and by analyzing business challenges and opportunities within the Saudi healthcare sector.

She joined GlaxoSmithKline in 2015 as a future leader management trainee and held the position of associate market access and pricing manager from 2017 until 2021.

In 2017, while working for GSK, she received a bronze award in a global employee recognition program, following that up with a silver award in 2019, after heading a women’s leadership initiative and project leading the business development, communications, health, and well-being departments.

From 2013 to 2014, she was Batterjee Medical College’s head of clinical skills, a department she established with the Jeddah-based institution’s head of medicine.

Khodary gained a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah in 2006, and a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology from San Francisco State University in 2012. She was also a researcher for a cell and molecular biology lab in California, and for King Fahd Medical Research Center in Jeddah.

Between 2006 and 2007, she worked on cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and tissue typing in a Saudi blood bank laboratory. She has obtained a number of professional certifications, including in health economics policy, and a negotiation program from The London School of Economics and Political Science.


Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 50 min 42 sec ago

Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
  • Labor cooperation deal signed during PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s historic Jan. 25-26 visit to Riyadh
  • Thailand to welcome more tourists from Kingdom following restoration of bilateral ties

BANGKOK: Thailand’s labor and tourism sector stakeholders on Friday said they were looking forward to exploring opportunities in Saudi Arabia in the wake of a restoration of ties between the two countries following the Thai prime minister’s visit to Riyadh.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was in the Saudi capital on Jan. 25 and 26 on the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first top leadership meeting between the nations in more than three decades.

One of the agreements signed during the trip was a labor cooperation deal, which Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Thursday was expected to take force within two months.

Saudi Arabia was at one time a popular destination for Thai expats with more than 300,000 of them living and working in the Kingdom during the 1980s. Currently, there are less than 1,350 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia, employed mainly as welders, technicians, and household staff, according to Thailand’s labor ministry data.

Aranya Sakulkosol, chairman of the Thai Overseas Manpower Association, a government-affiliated recruitment agency for overseas jobs, told Arab News that the resumption of diplomatic relations was “good news, as Saudi Arabia is also carrying on the developing plan that will provide opportunity for Thai laborers especially those with skills.”

She said that for many years there had been interest in opportunities in Saudi Arabia, as in the past many of those who worked in the Kingdom were able to establish themselves upon return.

“The association expects to start sending the pilot group to work in Saudi Arabia within two months, following the government’s plan. We will see how Thai workers adjust to the employer in Saudi Arabia,” Sakulkosol added.

The southeast Asian nation is also gearing up for more tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia, following an announcement by the Kingdom’s national flag carrier Saudia of its plan to resume direct flights to Thailand in May.

The Thai government has estimated that the increase in visitors from Saudi Arabia will generate an additional $150 million for its economy.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Arab News that while the coronavirus pandemic situation made it difficult to predict how many Saudis would visit the country, authorities wanted to build on two outstanding areas that could attract travelers: Medical and shopping tourism.

He said: “We plan to do the proactive marketing, including making a promotion plan with airline and travel agencies. Many agencies that we have partnered with previously focused on other Middle East countries such as the UAE, or Jordan. We will now also focus on Saudi Arabia.

“TAT will also plan a roadshow to introduce services in Thailand, such as hotels, to get to know their customers in Saudi Arabia and sell their products there. This could be done soon, probably before June," he added. "We have high hopes for increasing the number of visitors.” 


Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2022

Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
  • Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering

MAKKAH: An ambitious scheme encouraging eating establishments to provide Braille menus for visually impaired customers has been launched by a Saudi volunteer organization.
The initiative, led by a team from the volunteer administration at Al-Ahyaa Centers Association in Makkah, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom.
Instigated as part of World Braille Day celebrations, organizers expect a similar national eatery ordering project for the deaf and people with speaking difficulties to be served up in the near future.
Maha Al-Sharif, head of the Rouh Makkah volunteer team, said the idea came about after she witnessed a visually impaired person having each item on a restaurant’s food and drinks menu read out to them.

HIGHLIGHTS

• During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.

• The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.

• Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.

Her volunteer team, established seven months ago, is looking to promote the Braille service nationally.
Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering. It is a wonderful, outside-the-box idea that has been well-received by visually impaired individuals. The initiative will help spare them from some of the life problems they experience daily.”
He pointed out that visually impaired people often felt embarrassed having to ask for menus to be described to them, especially in busy outlets.
Associate team leader, Nourah Al-Maliki, noted that the integration of groups, such as the visually impaired, into Saudi society was an important aspect of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.
The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.
Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.
She said: “This is volunteer work and national duty. We welcome at any time our visually impaired sisters and brothers who will have a 50 percent discount on drinks for life.
“We also welcome any voluntary initiative or idea that serves the community, especially the special groups who are dear to our hearts.”