Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

The experienced hikers of the southern travelers Long Distance team practice their activities year-round, most notably on public holidays. (Supplied)
The experienced hikers of the southern travelers Long Distance team practice their activities year-round, most notably on public holidays. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 24 September 2023
Follow

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking
  • Abdulrahman Al-Bani, a team member, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia”

MAKKAH: A group of elderly Saudi travelers is touring the globe to promote sports and the idea that everyone should participate in them on a regular basis to prevent diseases.

The experienced hikers range in age from 61 to 79 years old, and practice their activities year-round, most notably on public holidays. They have scaled numerous summits throughout the world.

They believe that one must exercise regularly, especially hiking, to strengthen the heart and promote good health.

Abdulrahman Al-Bani, one of the founding members of the Southern Travelers Long Distance Team, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia.”

He added that on the 89th National Day the group walked a long distance from Abha to Baha and from Baha to Abha the next year. They walked from Abha to Dhahran Al-Janoub on the 91st National Day.

“On National Day 92, we made a trip along a path we called ‘Qyam and Shamam,’ which is a path similar to some European countries. It was 242 km long and passed through ancient villages, museums, and tourist attractions such as parks, mountains and valleys in the beautiful Asir region.”

The team has also started commemorating the Kingdom’s Founding Day with walking trips. Al-Bani explained: “Two years ago, on Founding Day, we walked from Baha Province to Makkah Province, passing through the migration trail from Makkah to Madinah. We made another trip from the Jazan Governorate in southern Saudi Arabia to the last governorate in Baha Province, a distance of 420 km.”

He explained that the team tours all regions and governorates of the Kingdom, holds events and encourages practicing sports through setting an example. It currently consists of 10 members.

One of the valuable aspects of their excursions has been developing a community and getting to know each other. “We got to know each other in walking and hiking activities. The team came together and became harmonious and consistent with each other. We carry a national and societal message to citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Bani added.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Health spends billions to treat diseases such as narrowed arteries, heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol. These huge amounts of money could be saved if people walk for at least half an hour a day.

“We aspire to be a good role model for young people and the elderly when we walk in cities, parks, and villages,” Al-Bani said, noting that team members “do not suffer from any diseases, not even diabetes or high blood pressure, thanks to the continuous physical effort that they are always keen to do, despite the fact that most of the team members are close to 80 years of age.”

Al-Bani added: “This week, in just one day, the team covered a distance of 21 km in Al-Soudah Mountains, which rise 2,400 meters above sea level. We have extensive experience in walking and hiking. We have become professional, but our message to everyone is do not exhaust yourself. Just exercise regularly.”

He noted that the group had trekked summits such as “the Himalayas, Everest, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa, and the Elbrus Mountains, which are the highest peaks in Europe and Russia.”

He added: “We walked on the Mont Blanc Trail in France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Western Highlands as well in Scotland. The group also climbed the highest peak in the Arab world in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco — Toubkal.”

 


Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat

Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat
Updated 14 min 51 sec ago
Follow

Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat

Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat
  • From new sports projects, physical activity is soaring, and running is no exception

RIYADH: For many, summer in Saudi Arabia is a time to relax on the couch, turn up the air conditioning, and watch other people play sports on TV, with those who dare to challenge this approach often ending up with heatstroke.

Yet, running clubs in the Kingdom are busier than ever, and show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Seema Ghannam, who regularly takes part in Riyadh Road Runner club sessions, told Arab News: “You can keep active wherever you are. There is no limit to movement anywhere you go because you already have hands, arms, and legs. This is what you are born to do, to keep moving.”

Riyadh Road Runner, made up of a variety of ages and nationalities, began with a warmup before moving to strength training and then running laps around the court. (Supplied)

Until recent years, physical activity in the Kingdom was almost nonexistent outside of schools and designated football teams. People were discouraged by the lack of facilities, suitable outdoor spaces, and the hot weather. Now, all that is changing. From the growing number of padel courts to the new projects at Sports Boulevard, physical activity is soaring, and running is no exception.

To find out how these runners manage to keep up their routines in the heat, Arab News visited Riyadh Road Runners, established in 1978, at one of the club’s 7:30 p.m. Monday sessions at the Eid Villas Compound. Runners were doing laps, climbing stairs, and completing full-body workouts.

The group, made up of a variety of ages and nationalities, began with a warmup before moving to strength training and then running laps around the court, focusing on proper technique.

FASTFACTS

• Until recent years, physical activity in the Kingdom was almost nonexistent outside of schools and designated football teams.

• Now, all that is changing. From the growing number of padel courts to the new projects at Sports Boulevard, physical activity is soaring.

Coach Amr Hafez has the runners break up their runs occasionally with bodyweight and stair exercises to increase stamina and muscle strength. The session ends with a final lap around the whole compound. At the end of a very sweaty workout, the runners take a dip in the pool to cool down.

Ghannam, who is also a yoga teacher and swimming instructor, added running to her exercise routine two years ago. She said that she enjoys Hafez’s holistic approach to the body, training the abs, hips, glutes, and thighs.

“We focus on trying to learn different kinds of running, how to run, how to place your toes, what shoes you should use.”

Ghannam said that she enjoys running outdoors because “you want your skin and your body to get used to the temperature.” But to manage the heat, runners should choose a time that is best for them, whether at night or early in the morning.

Hafez, a national sales manager at a Saudi food company, has coached with Riyadh Road Runners for more than three years. He has three key rules when it comes to running in summer. One is to stay well hydrated, two is to control your breathing, and three — much to our dismay — is high-intensity interval training.

The coach said that when he first started running, he used martial arts moves as part of his training, a fitness trick he learned from his first running coach.

“Runners need to build all their muscles to have great ability,” he said. “Combining strength with fitness helps people develop running ability for doing long distance.”

Hafez said that he used to think running served no purpose, and was simply a means of punishment when a school coach thought someone was slacking off. He never imagined he would one day run a marathon or be teaching other people to do the same.

“Most of the team when they first started couldn’t jog even 1k,” he said.

Omar Al-Ansari, a coach with Riyadh club R7, has six marathons under his belt. R7 runs in Wadi Hanifa, where the location offers protection against the heat.

“The trails are naturally shaded by the trees, and the breeze from the lake provides a 3–4-degree difference in temperature from the rest of the city,” he said.

Like Riyadh Road Runners, R7 emphasizes staying hydrated. “Always run with water, take electrolytes to preserve what is being lost through sweating,” Al-Ansari said.

He also advises runners to wear light-colored clothing, to complete their workouts before sunrise or after sunset, and to choose a garden or wadi as a location, or exercise indoors.

“And never forget your sunscreen,” he added.

Many runners told Arab News there is no longer any excuse for being inactive in the Kingdom.

“We are seeing a broader awareness about the importance of having an active lifestyle in the country, and despite our difficult weather in the summer, there are ways to go about it,” Al-Ansari said.

Hafez offered Arab News this simple suggestion: “Start by walking and go from there.”

 


Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
Updated 19 July 2024
Follow

Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
  • Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Alibrahim met with Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy. They also looked into strengthening cooperation between the Kingdom and the IMF.

The meeting was attended by Ammar Nagadi, vice minister of economy and planning; Rakan Alsheikh, deputy minister for policies and economic planning at the Ministry of Economy and Planning; Yaser Faquih, general director for the economic research and insights department at MEP; Hattan Mounir bin Samman, general supervisor for international organizations at MEP; and Ismail Salloum, executive director of Saudi Arabia’s National Infrastructure Fund.

 

 


Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature
Updated 30 min 19 sec ago
Follow

Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature
  • From fashion to furniture, Ithra challenge seeks ideas to protect biodiversity

DHAHRAN: Promising designers from the MENA region are preparing to outline their solutions to some of the world’s most pressing nature-related problems as part of an annual creative competition hosted by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

As part of Tanween, Ithra’s Season of Creativity, Tanween Challenges selected 80 designers from a pool of applicants to take part in the six-day challenge, with a July 20 deadline to deliver a tangible product or solution.

Designers across a range of disciplines will be aiming “to harmonize human activities with the planet’s biodiversity in an era where nature is affected by elements such as technological advancements, growing inequalities, and urbanization,” Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab, said.

Each of the challenges will involve 20 participants, either as individuals or in teams. Competitors will also be offered workshops and talks with experts in their chosen disciplines to ensure they have the tools to tackle their challenge briefs.

Tanween Challenges asked designers to craft practical solutions in the key areas of urban development, graphic design, furniture, and fashion. Event partners include NYXO, Albawardi Group, AM Unique by NamtHajja, and Vanina.

Ithra said in a statement that the competition seeks solutions that “nurture all forms of life, supported by a cross-disciplinary blend of expertise to tackle these complex issues courageously and innovatively.”

The four categories are:

- Pavilion Design Challenge asks participants to reimagine how people can coexist with their environment — and each other — more harmoniously amid rapid urban development and industrial activities that have compromised air quality and contributed to pollution that affects people’s health and the health of natural habitats within their cities.
 
- Graphic Design Challenge asks designers to develop visual communication to transform complex data into insights that will lead to a sustainable future, countering current threats to biodiversity and ecological balance.
 
- Participants in the Furniture Design Challenge will design public spaces that prioritizes people without neglecting the needs of other species that share the environment. Designers have been asked to answer the question: How can we create urban spaces that promote cohabitation between humans and other species?
 
- Fashion Design Challenge looks to provide answers to problems associated with the fashion industry, such as overproduction, overconsumption and the dominance of fast fashion — issues that have not only harmed the environment but also erased much of the culture that was once celebrated in fabric form.
 
One winning project from each challenge will be selected for commercial production. Successful projects will be displayed as part of a design exhibition at the Tanween Conference in November at Ithra’s headquarters.


Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage
Updated 19 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage
  • SAMA said it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational, cybersecurity practices

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank, or SAMA, assured the public on Friday that its national payment and banking infrastructure systems were unaffected by the worldwide tech outage that disrupted industries, from travel to finance.

A software update by global cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike appeared to have triggered system problems that grounded flights, forced some broadcasters off air and left customers without access to services such as healthcare or banking.

SAMA emphasized that it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational and cybersecurity practices.

This includes rigorous protocols for its systems and national payment networks, as well as those connected with other financial institutions.

The bank further highlighted its commitment to regularly updating precautionary measures to ensure the effectiveness of business continuity plans and the resilience of banking and payment systems.

These measures are aimed at enhancing infrastructure safety and service efficiency, it said.

Although CrowdStrike said it had rolled out a fix for the problem, experts have questioned how easy it would be for millions of users to patch their damaged systems.
 


Jazan hosts closing ceremony for 2024 Mawhiba program

Jazan hosts closing ceremony for 2024 Mawhiba program
Updated 10 sec ago
Follow

Jazan hosts closing ceremony for 2024 Mawhiba program

Jazan hosts closing ceremony for 2024 Mawhiba program
  • The ceremony featured artistic performances, documentary film screenings, and presentations highlighting the Mawhiba Academic Enrichment Program’s ambitions and student journeys

JAZAN: The General Administration of Education in Jazan organized the closing ceremony for the 2024 Mawhiba Academic Enrichment Program and the accompanying exhibition in partnership with the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity.

The program, which lasted for three weeks, targeted 273 female and male students.

The closing ceremony included an exhibition showcasing 49 student projects from 12 different science units, including invention, programming, medicine, robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence.

The ceremony also featured artistic performances, documentary film screenings, and presentations highlighting the Mawhiba Academic Enrichment Program’s ambitions and student journeys.