JEDDAH: Several guides completed a six-day advanced hiking training course recently in the northwestern city of Tabuk that is aimed at helping to showcase the distinctive natural beauty of the region.
The training program was organized by the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation under the supervision of the Ministry of Sports. The advanced course is a prerequisite for obtaining an SCHF hiking guide license.
Ali Al-Maliki, a hiking coach and lecturer, told Arab News that hiking was becoming an increasingly popular pastime in Saudi Arabia, among retirees and young people who want to remain in good physical condition.
“There are hiking teams in nearly all Saudi cities. There are some three hiking teams in Jeddah, for instance, and the numbers … around the Kingdom are increasing,” Al-Maliki said.
Al-Maliki said that three days of the course, held at King Khalid Sports City, focused on theory, with the rest of the time devoted to practical instruction.
“The course’s main aim was to refine and develop the skills of the (prospective) hiking guides in accordance with international requirements set by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. The course was also meant to further promote (the) sport,” he added.
Al-Maliki said that Tabuk was selected for its attractive natural terrain and rock formations, which impressed tourists who recently toured the area. “They were astonished to see the amazing rocks, waterfalls and streams. Saudi Arabia in general is rich in these natural features.”
Elaborating on the course, Al-Maliki said the trainees were introduced to licensing requirements, the health benefits of the activity, and personal qualities required of guides. The participants were also taught how to plan, use navigation equipment such as compasses and maps, respect the environmental, make types of hiking knots, and develop risk reduction and emergency skills.
He said the practical training took place in Bajdah, on the northwestern side of Tabuk, which has distinctive red sand dunes and rock formations.