‘Packing a punch’: more girls in Saudi Arabia take up combat sports

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Halah Al-Hamrani, owner of FLAG gym. (Social media photo)
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As Saudi Arabia moves toward achieving its Vision 2030 reform targets, health and welfare is an important goal for Saudi Arabia, and girls have started to lead their lives toward fitness and strength. (Social media photo)
Updated 06 October 2019

‘Packing a punch’: more girls in Saudi Arabia take up combat sports

  • As combat sports activities become regular pastime for women, new skills help improve their physical and mental health

JEDDAH: While combat sports are still deemed as masculine sports by some Saudis, they have started to become a regular pastime for women too. Halah Al-Hamrani, 41, opened a gym called FLAG, an acronym for the popular slogan “fight like a girl” that has been used in pop culture to insult girls, to help empower women.
“I am feminine in my own way, but I also like hitting things,” Al-Hamrani said.
She has participated in panel discussions across the Kingdom to show that it is possible for women to practice combat sports, feel strong and empowered and still be a woman.
As the country is moving toward its Vision 2030 reform plans, health and welfare is an important goal for Saudi Arabia, and girls have started to lead their lives toward fitness and strength.
“With the empowerment of women, people have started to enjoy and support women in these fields,” she said.

Mental health
Nowadays, people understand that women do not necessarily need men to protect them.
According to Al-Hamrani, this mentality is helping people who promote combat sports. “It is making our job easier,” she added.

I promote combat sports for ladies, because they are very good exercises. It is highly skill-based and it works your mind and your body. For ladies, in general, it is a very empowering sport.

Halah Al-Hamrani, Owner of FLAG gym

“I promote combat sports for ladies, because they are very good exercises. It is highly skill-based and it works your mind and your body. For ladies, in general, it is a very empowering sport,” Al-Hamrani said.
She told Arab News that fighting sports require a lot of self-motivation, self-control and help support mental health.
“I find that it is the first requirement that woman should have toward a sport. It is the mental gains and power that you can develop.”
Boxing training proves an all-body workout, giving fighters lots of strength. The body of the boxer changes aesthetically — it becomes proportionate and toned.
“It’s important to learn self-defense. It helps to build the confidence,” said Reham Kamal, a coach at RK fitness and Al-Hamrani’s student.

Fitness
Sports and fitness are also perceived by people as a method of becoming fit and looking good, according to Kamal.
“For me, in the beginning, it was only to have a nice body shape, then it became a lifestyle. I wanted to learn more about it. So, I decided to educate myself by taking courses and workshops. After that I decided to help others to reach their fitness goals by coaching them.
“Boxing for me is not just to learn self-defense, it also challenges me to learn a new skill every time and improve my focus. It helps to improve my physical and mental health,” Kamal added.

Support
In Saudi Arabia, boxing is still frowned upon by some people.
“I have received many comments on social media from people that are not as open-minded toward the idea of women in combat sports. I have received comments like ‘she probably beats up her husband’ or ‘she is probably more of a man than a woman.’ There are many comments like that coming my way and it is obvious that they are uneducated,” Al-Hamrani said.
Embarking on her journey, Al-Hamrani received unconditional support from her friends and family.
“You are going to want your daughters and sisters to defend themselves if a bad situation ever occurred,” she said.


GCC citizens temporarily suspended from entering Saudi Arabia’s Makkah, Madinah

Updated 28 February 2020

GCC citizens temporarily suspended from entering Saudi Arabia’s Makkah, Madinah

  • The decision was made in light of the rising number of coronavirus cases in some GCC countries
  • Suspension for individuals seeking to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque

RIYADH: Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been temporarily banned from entering Saudi Arabia’s holy cities Makkah and Madinah, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The decision was made in light of the rising number of coronavirus cases in some GCC countries like Kuwait and Bahrain, which have 45 and 36 reported cases respectively.
GCC citizens who have been in Saudi Arabia for 14 continuous days and have not displayed symptoms of coronavirus are exempt from the ban, and can obtain a permit from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s website should they wish to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.
On Thursday, the Kingdom temporarily suspended entry for individuals seeking to perform the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as well as tourists traveling from countries where coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.
These countries include China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan.