JEDDAH: The sky’s the limit for three Saudi female thrill-seekers after qualifying as professional skydivers.
Spectators recently watched Alaa Dhafer, Maram Al-Eid, and Razan Al-Ghufaili make their official debut as the Saudi Arabian Extreme Sports Federation’s first all-female team of skydivers by jumping from a Black Hawk helicopter at 12,000 feet.
The trio took part in the third skydiving camp to be held at King Abdullah Economic City and SAESF executive director, Abdulmajeed Al-Mutairi, told Arab News: “The introduction of the female component of this sport is a message to all that Saudi women are present in this extreme sport in the Kingdom as partners for men in all sports.
“We were delighted with the graduation of the first batch of women who have received their training here at home (in Saudi Arabia). They completed the training program well and eventually obtained skydiving licenses as the first Saudi female parachutists to be trained inside the Kingdom,” he said.
The women were granted their pro licenses by the US Parachute Association, one of the world’s leading bodies for the discipline.
Al-Eid, a freelance personal trainer and skating coach in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I’m not sure if I can call myself an adventurist, but I’m a person that loves to face her fears and push her limits.
“Of course, safety measures have to be taken into consideration. I chose this sport because I’ve always had a thing for wings and flying and being able to literally freely fly is something I would never miss out on.
“I’m not going to lie, I was so excited but so scared at the same time, however after the third jump I became less fearful, and the feeling was like no other. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.”
The 27-year-old hopes to perform with the skydiving formation team at next year’s Saudi National Day. “I didn’t participate in the show this year because I have only just passed my course but our goal as ladies is to have a skydiving team to participate next year.”
Dhafer, from Makkah, said: “Skydiving is an experience that cannot be replaced by any other. It is special and close to my heart. I have dreamed of flying ever since I was a child, and now my dream has come true, and I still can’t believe it.
“Being one of the first female skydivers in the Kingdom is considered as an achievement for our great country, and my teammates and I feel very proud. My mother is my biggest fan and was very supportive while I was trying to pass the necessary stages.”
And she urged other women to have a try. “Skydiving is so much fun, and if it’s something you’re attracted to and something you’d like to do, go for it.”
Al-Ghufaili said skydiving had changed her whole outlook on life. “Jumping from the sky is all I want to do, and I am going to improve my skills. It is a very nice feeling and a new experience that has changed many things in me. Skydiving has given me the motivation to fly more, and train better until I reach the highest level.”
She noted that being an adventurous person was great but not easy. “There is a constant inner struggle and challenge facing your fears,” she added.
Al-Mutairi said he had been impressed by the determination and courage of the three women.
“Their passion for jumping led them to where they are now, and I hope they become an inspiration for youngsters and girls.
“There is no doubt that the introduction of parachute jumping as a sporting activity in the Kingdom was not accessible because it’s linked to several military and civil bodies.
“We have noticed that requests to take part have increased after each event organized by the federation. But it is worth noting that the training of parachutists requires the presence of clubs that work on that basis, and this is what the federation seeks to find.
“The federation’s work is currently limited to developing the skills of paratroopers and enacting regulations and mechanisms that in turn allow for clubs to work and train,” Al-Mutairi added.
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