American who speaks in Saudi Bedouin accent

Updated 07 January 2016

American who speaks in Saudi Bedouin accent

JEDDAH: An American citizen was the focus of attention in the Bahra governorate recently, not for his work with the King Faisal Foundation but because he speaks Arabic with a Saudi Bedouin accent.
Neil Packman, from Minnesota in the United States, is the head of the Al-Baida Village Development in Bahra and surprised journalists visiting the area when he welcomed them in the local Arabic dialect, according to a report in a local publication.
Packman studied Arabic at secondary school in Egypt and later continued his studies in the language at various universities. His speciality is economics and he has a diploma in design, environmental and agricultural science.
“In the summer of 2010 a friend told me that the King Faisal Foundation was looking for a person specializing in design, environmental and agricultural science, so I traveled to Saudi Arabia for a six-month trial period,” he said.
“I applied, got the job and went to Al-Baida where I lived in a room and studied the site for a year. I became close to the locals and the people who visited the center.”
He said he was the first American Christian to meet the villagers, and interacted with them so much that they taught him their local dialect. He said he became friends with a local man, Khaled Al-Jahdali, now 24, who taught him all the local customs, including greetings and what to say before dinner.
Packman said the work began with only five people, but this has now expanded to 65. His deputy is Khamis Al-Jahdali.


Khabib ‘the Eagle’ sees immense Arab talent

A ferocious wrestler, Khabib ‘the Eagle’ Nurmagomedov holds a record of 28 wins with no losses. (Reuters)
Updated 9 min 21 sec ago

Khabib ‘the Eagle’ sees immense Arab talent

  • The lightweight champion from Russia is optimistic about future of MMA in the Middle East

MOSCOW: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting has become the world’s most innovative sport, mainly due to the growth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an American MMA promotion company that brought fighters from various disciplines — from jiu-jitsu to kickboxing — to battle it out in a cage.
One such fighter is Khabib “the Eagle” Nurmagomedov, who has taken the MMA world by storm.
A ferocious wrestler hailing from the Dagestan region, Khabib holds a professional record of 28 wins with no losses. He was crowned the UFC Lightweight Champion after defeating Al Iaquinta in New York in April 2018. His latest win to defend his title was against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 9, 2019.
Arab News spoke to Khabib in Moscow about the future of the sport in the Arab world, which he sees as promising but still needs time to grow.

BIO

• Age: 31

• Height: 5’10”

• Weight: 155lbs

• Wins: 28

• Losses: 0

• Reach: 70”

“The sport is very famous in the region. Arabs love competing with each other and if you look at history, Arabs are warriors with very good spirits. They just need a little bit of time,” he said.
“Like Russia and Dagestan, it was different 10 years ago and now the sport has completely changed. I know it is difficult to make new stars, champions and athletes. I think in the next decade, a lot of Arabs are going to be top fighters.”
After being crowned champion, he was given the opportunity to defend his title against Conor McGregor, one of the most famous names in the sport. The match was dubbed the biggest fight in MMA history, drawing in 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the highest of any UFC fight.

UFCRECORD

• 28-0 undefeated

• 8 wins by knockout

• 10 wins by submission

Khabib defeated McGregor in a rear-naked chokehold in the fourth round of their acrimonious fight last October, placing him on the world stage.
His ability to take down, control and keep his opponents on the floor — overwhelming them with damaging strikes — make him stand out from the other grapplers in MMA. Discipline, commitment and years of rigorous training in the mountains of his native Dagestan have helped him become the exceptional fighter and dominant force he is today.
In his latest fight in UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, Khabib defended his belt by beating former interim American Lightweight Champion Dustin Poirier.
“I came to Abu Dhabi almost three weeks before the fight as I was worried about the jet lag and needed to get accustomed to the climate.
“It was an amazing experience for me as many people from my native Dagestan, the (former) USSR countries and my friends came to watch the match live.
“I want my next fight to be in Russia. I last fought here almost 10 years ago, in 2011, and I really want to go again. This is my goal for the match.”
Next month, Saudi Arabia’s amateur MMA outfit heads to Dagestan to train with Khabib’s team. “Over 15 people will come to my camp and train with my father and my team for a couple of weeks,” he said.

The sport is very famous in the region. Arabs love competing with each other.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Even though “the Eagle” is flying high in the UFC, he is keeping his feet on the ground and not getting carried away by his success.
“I am focused on this now and at the moment I see it as ‘I’m almost there.’ I think that a few more years of fighting will be my limit. I do not want to fight all my life. A lot of young, hungry guys are coming and I know to be undefeated and undisputed is impossible. One day, you are going to lose and one day you need to stop, you just have to know when.
“I am going to compete in the coming years. I am 31-years-old, which is not too old for the sport, but I will reach my limit by the age of 33 or 34,” he said.
“Right now, I have a couple more years to compete with the toughest challengers in the world.  Whatever opponent they give me, I am going to fight and improve my legacy and self. I want to face the best fighters in the world.”
Khabib hopes his next fight will be in Russia, but the question fans want the answer to is who will be his opponent?
It has been rumored that Tony Ferguson, who currently holds a record of 12 wins without defeat, will be next in line to face him.