Saudi jiu-jitsu fighter draws inspiration from ailing son

Saudi jiu-jitsu fighter draws inspiration from ailing son
Mohammed Jwaied M. Al-Mukhalis Al-Yami and his ailing son Fahad win hearts of netizens by clinching gold medals in Jui Jitsu in the US. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 October 2021

Saudi jiu-jitsu fighter draws inspiration from ailing son

Saudi jiu-jitsu fighter draws inspiration from ailing son
  • Mohammed Jwaied Al-Mukhalis Al-Yami moved to the US so his son could receive a life-saving lung transplant
  • Former Aramco employee started training in jiu-jitsu to get his ‘mind off of negative thoughts’ and then won a world championship title

JEDDAH: In an unexpected turn of events, a Saudi father living in the US has won gold with his ailing son serving as his biggest fan and top coach.

Mohammed Jwaied M. Al-Mukhalis Al-Yami unwittingly found himself in the middle of his very own inspirational story, one that was heavily circulated on social media and captured the attention of Saudis everywhere.

Al-Mukhalis, a former employee at Aramco, moved to Houston, Texas, with his youngest son, Fahad, who suffers from a congenital heart and lung deformity. After years of treatment at Saudi hospitals, Fahad, the youngest of his three sons, was transferred to one of the top hospitals in Houston to undergo a lifesaving lung transplant procedure, with help from the Saudi government. 

“I needed a distraction and I found it through training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which keeps me busy and gets my mind off of negative thoughts,” Al-Mukhalis told Arab News.

“My son is my biggest fan and my coach, too. He is always by my side while I train and it is a blessing, especially since it is only us here.”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting and submission holds. It is a relatively tactful sport that requires focus and maneuvers to beat one’s opponent, something that Al-Mukhalis found easy. His coaches helped him discover a talent he never knew he had as Al-Mukhalis is inspired by Fahad cheering him on every step of the way. 

With his wife and two older sons back in the Kingdom, Al-Mukhalis carried his son’s oxygen cylinder on his shoulder and accompanied him to the hospital every day as he went through treatment ahead of the transplant surgery. Al-Mukhalis spent his extra time training on the jiu-jitsu mat.

“It helped me get rid of my feelings of sadness and sorrow,” he said.

Al-Mukhalis started to gain confidence by winning local competitions until a breakout performance at this week’s World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship 2021 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. 

“I won first place at the GI-adult 155-pound category,” he said. “With my son looking on and his struggle in mind, he was my inspiration to winning the championship in a thrilling climax.”

Al-Mukhalis went from a Saudi in a foreign country to a world champion. He made the successful transformation with hard work and effort — a victory he could not attain without Fahad by his side.

“My son and I made a vow to never give up when I fight and he will keep fighting his illness, too,” Al-Mukhalis said.


What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Updated 13 sec ago

What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
  • After education minister said 83% of parents believe online education has been good for kids’ mental health, we talk those on both sides of the debate

JEDDAH: Distance learning was a necessity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the past 18 months there has been a great deal of debate, globally, about the merits or otherwise of remote education and how well its extended use has served students during these difficult times.

In Saudi Arabia, however, parents appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of distance learning, according to figures quoted by Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh. Speaking last month at the Saudi Family Forum, organized by the Family Affairs Council, he said 83 percent of parents believe that remote education has positively affected their children’s mental and psychological health. He added that it is here to stay, in some form, even after the pandemic ends because it has become a pillar of the education system.
Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or “My School,” platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides. In the first week after its launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.
Redha Omda, a father of three in Jeddah, told Arab News that teachers are using new techniques to enhance the online learning environment, and applauded the increased use of technology.
“I like how technology is playing a big part in the educational sector,” he said. “Teachers are contacting me through WhatsApp and they are more accessible than before.

BACKGROUND

Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or ‘My School,’ platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides.

“The Madrasati platform is linked to the parent’s Tawakkalna app, which is amazing, and it lets me know everything about my kids. I am also impressed by how my kids are using technology in a way that I did not imagine.”
Bara’a Alfergani, a mother of two living in Jeddah, said that distance learning saves students a lot of time.
“Study at home is better than attending eight hours of classes every day and then coming home with homework to do,” she said. “It is much easier to attend online and do homework at the same place.”

In the first week after Madrasati launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.

Alfergani added that it also makes it easier for her to keep an eye on her children and be more involved in their education.
The Ministry of Education has indicated that the future of learning in Saudi Arabia will involve some form of hybrid learning, as the concept of distance education has evolved as a result of the global health crisis.
Joud Al-Harbi, a 23-year-old college student from Jeddah, said that online education is a much better option than attending classes.
“It allows me to do many things at the same time,” she said. “I interact with my instructors, and most of my collegemates understand the subjects easily.”
One of her friends has a sick child, she added, and prefers to take classes online because it gives her more time to care for the youngster.
Schools and other educational institutions in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children.
Not all parents agree that distance learning has been a good thing, however. Stay-at-home mom Mashael Al-Sahli said it has had an adverse psychological effect on her two children because it has deprived them of a social life.
“Building social skills starts at school and it is an important factor of the growing process,” she said. “It was something we didn’t feel until schools were closed.”
Not only were her children deprived of the school environment, activities and their friends, she said, even though the online learning system that has been developed is good she nevertheless has found the learning process to be difficult.
“The kids can’t even see the teachers’ gestures or body language,” she added.
Nahedh Almwalad, an elementary school teacher in Jeddah, said that children have a lot of energy and their attention span is limited, which can be a challenge with online education, but added that it can help to teach them patience.


Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival begins with Saudi official entry for Oscars ‘The Tambour of Retribution’

Saudi film director Abdulaziz Al-Shelahi (2nd from left) with film casts during interactive session with audience at Ambassador's Choice International Film Festival. (Supplied)
Saudi film director Abdulaziz Al-Shelahi (2nd from left) with film casts during interactive session with audience at Ambassador's Choice International Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 19 min 42 sec ago

Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival begins with Saudi official entry for Oscars ‘The Tambour of Retribution’

Saudi film director Abdulaziz Al-Shelahi (2nd from left) with film casts during interactive session with audience at Ambassador's Choice International Film Festival. (Supplied)
  • Applauding the movie, the Indian envoy said it represents the rich content and talent that the Saudi film industry has to offer to the world

RIYADH: The ninth Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival recently opened at the Embassy of India in Riyadh with the screening of Saudi drama “The Tambour of Retribution.”

The film, directed by Abdul Aziz Al-Shelahi, has been nominated as Saudi Arabia’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. It will compete with films from around the world and will pass through several screening stages before the final list is announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The winner will be announced at the Oscars, which will be held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on March 27.

Chosen by the Saudi Film Commission and nominated by the Saudi Academy Awards Committee as an official entry to the Oscars, “The Tambour of Retribution” has won Best Feature Film at the Saudi Film Festival. It was shown for the first time at the Cairo Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award. It was also shown at the Malmo Arab Film Festival in Sweden and won the Best Director Award.

In his inaugural address, Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed congratulated Al-Shelahi for the film, which was screened on the inaugural day of the film festival, as well as for the nomination of his movie for the Oscars, wishing him all the best.

Applauding the movie, the Indian envoy said it represents the rich content and talent that the Saudi film industry has to offer to the world.

Later, in an interactive session with the audience, Al-Shelahi briefed them about his experiences during the production of the movie and expressed his happiness and pride at representing Saudi Arabia in the Oscar race for the best international film category.

HIGHLIGHT

The Embassy of India is hosting the ninth edition of the Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 in collaboration with the Saudi Film Association and nine other embassies, which include those of Australia, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka and the US.

He credited the actors associated with the film for their hard work, praising them for their passion for the craft.

Commenting on “The Tambour of Retribution,” Meshal Al-Mutairi, chairman of the Saudi Film Association and chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, said: “We are very happy for it. It’s a very good movie, one of the best in recent years and the right nominee for the Oscars. It has won awards in Cairo and other international awards, and we hope it will be shortlisted for the Oscar award.”      

The Embassy of India is hosting the ninth edition of the Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 in collaboration with the Saudi Film Association and nine other embassies, which include those of Australia, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka and the US.

The festival was inaugurated by the Indian ambassador along with his counterparts from other participating embassies and Al-Mutairi.

Sayeed thanked the embassies and Saudi authorities for their collaboration. While talking about Indian cinema, he said that the film industry is not only a contributor to the Indian economy but a cultural bridge between India and the world.

He said that Saudi Arabia and India have a very strong film connection in Ebrahim Al-Kazi, a renowned drama teacher and founder-director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama.

The renowned theater director, often referred to as the “father of Indian theater,” has Saudi roots in his father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, who was a trader from Unaiza in the Qassim region and who eventually settled in Pune, India.

The envoy added that Indian cinema, due to its extensive outreach, has contributed to the popularization of several countries as tourist destinations, with Bollywood functions like film festivals, award shows, cultural carnivals and concerts enriching the economies of the countries hosting them.

Referring to Saudi cinema, the ambassador mentioned that although it is a nascent industry, it has already established a strong presence on the global stage.

He underlined that the sector offers enormous potential for growth and is bound to play a significant role in the actualization of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.

The inauguration of the festival was attended by diplomats, Saudi nationals, journalists, members of the Indian community and other expatriates.

The festival will screen 12 movies of diverse genres, which include many acclaimed movies such as Indian film “Nil Batte Sannata,” American film “Hamilton,” Sri Lankan film “Nela,” Saudi film “Scales,” Australian film “Gurrumul” and Mexican film “Mezquite’s Heart.”


Saudi FM meets Argentine Parliament Speaker in Buenos Aires

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Argentine Parliament Speaker Sergio Tomas Massa in Buenos Aires. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Argentine Parliament Speaker Sergio Tomas Massa in Buenos Aires. (SPA)
Updated 57 min 23 sec ago

Saudi FM meets Argentine Parliament Speaker in Buenos Aires

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Argentine Parliament Speaker Sergio Tomas Massa in Buenos Aires. (SPA)
  • Saudi minister stressed that the Kingdom is keen to strengthen relations with Argentina and enhance joint coordination

BUENOS AIRES: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday met Argentine Parliament Speaker Sergio Tomas Massa during his official visit to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. During the meeting, they reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in all areas of joint cooperation.
The Saudi minister stressed that the Kingdom is keen to strengthen relations with Argentina and enhance joint coordination in the political, development and investment fields, especially in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.
In turn, Massa welcomed Prince Faisal and hailed his visit to Argentina, which he described as a “mission to shift bilateral relations towards broader horizons.”
The meeting tackled the importance of intensifying parliamentary cooperation and civil society organization in both countries, in order to promote dialogue between different civilizations and cultures.


Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization
Updated 27 November 2021

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization

Saudi Arabia welcomes Australia’s designation of Hezbollah as terrorist organization
  • Australia on Wednesday said it intends to add the group to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday welcomed Australia’s intention to designate Hezbollah, both its political and military wings, as a terrorist organization.

Australia on Wednesday said it intends to add the group to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations.

The Kingdom’s foreign ministry said the step was important in enhancing international peace and security, and urged the international community to take a similar stance to confront terrorism and terrorist groups around the world.


Who’s Who: Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat, mayor of the Qassim region

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)
Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)
Updated 27 November 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat, mayor of the Qassim region

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat. (Supplied)

Dr. Ali bin Mohammed Al-Suwat was recently appointed mayor of the Qassim region following a royal decree.
Prior to his new position, Al-Suwat served as the mayor of the Baha region for nearly four years beginning in 2017.
A few days before his recent appointment, the municipality of Baha was ranked fourth among 17 local municipalities on the digital transformation index issued by the Kingdom’s Digital Government Authority.
Before his work in Baha, he was head of Abqaiq mayoralty in the Eastern Province. He also served as the director of the urban planning department at the Eastern Province municipality, where he previously was the director of the project coordination department.
Al-Suwat, who has many research, scientific papers and studies published in both Arabic and English, was speaker at a number of conferences and meetings on urban and developmental issues. He presented a paper at the roundtable discussion sustainable cities alliance on the sidelines of the third UN-Habitat forum for green development, held in 2019 in Chengdu, China. 
When working for the Eastern Province municipality, he represented the municipality to the World Energy Cities Partnership, which connects leading energy cities on all continents that are committed to fostering the transition to a more sustainable energy future, held in 2012 at the WECP headquarters in Houston, in the US.
A year prior to that, he represented the Eastern Province mayor at the WECP annual meeting, held in Doha, Qatar.
Al-Suwat received a bachelor’s degree in 1995 from King Faisal University’s college of architecture and planning. Four years later, the university’s department of building engineering granted him a master’s in project management. In 2011, he obtained a Ph.D. in sustainable architecture from the college of architecture and planning of King Saud University.