Diriyah Riyadh’s Cultural and Entertainment Oasis

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Land of kings, heroes and modern-day champions.


Nestled in the northwestern part of Riyadh, Diriyah has stood as a testament to the Kingdom’s rich history and independence. Its significance lies in being the first capital and settlement of the Saudi State.

Its place in history, which is also manifested in the mud brick architecture and burrows, makes it a true UNESCO world heritage site— with its At Turaif district being the focus of renovations and preservation activities. While its authenticity being held intact, it is in the process of being transformed into an open museum and a heritage destination.

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Sourced Photo

However, in recent years and with the creation of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Diriyah as we know it is getting pegged to be one of the biggest cultural and entertainment hubs of the Kingdom. Beyond its historic value, we’ve seen the 7km giga project play host to the most spectacular events in the city.

Last months of 2019 saw the inauguration of Diriyah Gate, and in the whole of December, we witnessed major sporting events and tournaments play out in the area. The ancient arabian streets once again turned into the track for the Diriyah E-Prix Championship.

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Sourced Photo

As part of Diriyah Season, the Clash of Dunes also brought thousands to flock at the historical site for the first ever international boxing championship in Saudi Arabia. It saw history made again with Anthony Joshua claiming the heavyweight title from Andy Ruiz Junior.

Perhaps one of our favorite events this year, the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, laid witness to the first mixed Saudi athletic team in the Kingdom. It also served as a qualifier for individuals wanting to be part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

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Sourced Photo

The first Diriyah Tennis Cup was also held last December, with 8 of the best players in the world competing for $3M. Victory was clinched by Daniil Medvedev.

Less we forget, Diriyah also played host to a number of concerts that kept our winters on fire. From Usher, Chris Brown, Imagine Dragons, and more. The larger than life events showed the versatility of Diriyah to capture the past, present, and future of the Kingdom.

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Sourced Photo

The Bujairy district, will remain open this first quarter of the year, giving guests an amazing food, dining, and retail experience. While the entire project is set to fully meet its goals for 2020— one can rest assured that there’s something to be had from now.

Things to Do in Diriyah:
Missed out on the season? Worry not, you can still catch the cool breeze and have fun at this historical district:

1. Visit the Historical area of Turaif and discover local merchants, craftsmen, old mud houses and museums.
2. Go cycling or running around Diriyah and all the way to Wadi Hanifah.
3. Check out Najdi Cuisine at Bujairy District.
4. Have a Picnic in the select spots and parks.
5. Go on an Artventure! Diriyah is a perfect area for photo walks and propping up your easel for some inspiration.

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Saudi DXN, FTW

The SIKKA Collection by Dahr Design Studio

These local designers and brands are turning the world into a Pinterest board, while shifting Saudi’s aesthetic and functional consciousness.


As creatives descended in Riyadh for Saudi Design Week, we saw breakthrough talents and design practitioners rise to the occasion with showcases that marry contemporary design with a unique play on local identity.

The SIKKA Collection by Dahr Design Studio

Dahr Design Studio has been making a name for itself not just in Saudi Arabia but in the region. Speaking to its creative director, AlBara Saimaldahar, we can see the appeal. Their latest collection, SIKKA, breathes new life to forgotten materials—wood and items from the Hejazi railways, no less. Dahr has turned them into contemporary pieces that can definitely spark a conversation.dksa8_creatives_saudidxn_dahrstudio_sourced1-copy

“Sikka takes our passion for sourcing local materials, designing and transforming them into meaningful experiences of unique and well thought products. In 1951, King Abdulaziz had established the country’s first railway line to transport crude oil with the assistance of ARAMCO. The wood railways served under the heat of the Arabian sun for decades before it got replaced by concrete. 70 years later, we now find ourselves seduced by the impressions and character left on the wood surfaces by its history. And that’s what you see here, each product is delicately designed and manufactured, it’s comfortable, it’s more than a piece of wood, it’ll stand the test of time—as it had in the past.”

Web: dahrdesign.com
Instagram: dahr___

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Sourced photos

Torba Studio

Torba Studio is a fashion brand based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Designing womenswear, menswear and accessory collections. The name of the brand ‘Torba’ is an Arabic word that means sand.

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Sourced photos

Torba Studio takes its inspiration from the mystery and philosophy of the unknown, spirit and the afterlife. And that’s where the brand’s slogan, ‘See beyond what you can touch’ comes from. They create pieces that play on the brand’s love of thought-provoking ideas and graphics. Torba Studio’s goal is to develop the fashion industry in the region, to reach global markets and to provide jobs in the design field because passion is a way of happiness.

Instagram: torbastudio

dksa8_creatives_saudidxn_maalbkoun-abdulmajeedalrodan2-copyMaalb.Koun by Akwan

Inspired by a personal experience with her son’s relationship to Arabic language, Saudi design Lujain Abulfaraj together with Emirati designer Sara Al Arif, co-created Akwan. A project that brings the Arabic language closer to children through play.

Maalb.Koun, is one of the project’s playgrounds, which debuted at Saudi Design Week. A few thousand miles away, Maalb.Dhad, its sibling showcased at Dubai Design Week. The “fun”ctional installation has brought in quite the attention, with Maalb.Koun receiving support from the Delegation of the European Union in Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly enough, the playground’s purpose has evolved, it has become a movement and a way of raising awareness in our contemporary relationship with the language. Likewise, the design also promotes engagement between adults, creating a sphere to discuss, congregate, and activate the playground as a social space.

Instagram: akwan.me

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Sourced photos

Lebeed by Muse Rawan x Moath AlOfi

Lebeed is an interesting example of how multidisciplinary practitioners can come together to create something authentic and original. This jewelry collection is inpired by unique rock formations, inscriptions, and heritage in Saudi Arabia.

Moath Alofi is a Madinah-based artist, researcher, and explorer. Currently, he is the Head of Cultural Programs at the Madinah Development Authority, manager of the Madinah Arts Center, founder of Al-Mthba studio, and the co-founder of Erth Team, a production group for safari trips, aerial and travel photography.

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Sourced photos

Rawan is a Saudi designer, product developer, and 3D jewelry program trainer. She is the founder of Muse Rawan, a jewelry house adapted from Islamic architecture, civilizations, and monuments. Rawan is especially interested in supporting graduates from the design sector either in collaboration or instruction.

Instagram: muserawan

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The Birth of MDL Beast

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An origin story.


It’s been a couple of weeks post-MDL Beast, but its effect throughout the city of Riyadh and the Kingdom continues to reverberate. MDL Beast ushered in changes that propelled us to new dimensions—shifting lives, perceptions, and popular culture in one unforgettable weekend. As the dust settles in Banban, we decided to get closer to the eye of the ‘soundstorm’ and find out what it took to bring MDL Beast to life.

Destination had a chat with Baloo, also known as Ahmad Al Ammary, a partner and brand strategist at 9SS Creative, the Saudi agency that developed the MDL Beast brand. Baloo, Anmar, and Ibz also happen to be DJs. Baloo found himself in the middle of a dream project he never saw coming.

“It came to us just 5 months ago, we couldn’t believe it but at the same time, being DJs and designers/creatives for years, we knew exactly what we needed to do. My partners and I, we’ve had the brand name parked in the back of our heads for years. But it needed to be a big brand with big attitude. When this festival came up— we all looked at each other and said, this is it. This is MDL BEAST,” said Baloo.

Organizing an event, regardless of where you are in the world is no easy feat. Add to that challenge only having two months to build an unprecedented three-day festival in the middle of the desert. It took multiple talents and professionals, both Saudi and foreign all coming together, sharing many sleepless nights to bring the Beast to life.

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A day before opening, Baloo found himself standing in the middle of an empty audience space, staring up at the towering stage, engulfed by the sound of the speakers. “Before MDL Beast, I didn’t expect anything like this to happen, then it came and We were engulfed in every detail, even beyond its brand identity, like no project before. Seeing it all come together, being a part of MDL Beast opened my eyes to so much, so many possibilities, so much potential.”

At that moment the universe aligned, Baloo’s passions entwined, and in those few seconds that would last him a lifetime— he was home. He knew he belonged.

“The experience was both exhausting and exhilarating, but on those three days, we were running all over the place, fueled by the positive energy people radiated. They had so much fun. It was infectious and very humbling.” Baloo, who also performed on the Saudi Beast and UG Beast stages shared, “I’ve been doing this (DJing) for 23 years, but to do it in my hometown, on an unprecedented regional platform that we helped create, in front of all our people, was overwhelming, and you try to hang on to that moment because you know nothing’s ever going to be the same after it.”

What we found monumental during the festival is the bond among artists and a sense of community the local talents exhibited. Urban legends playing the underground scene surfacing, breakthrough DJs sharing the spotlight, with musicians who up until that day, only had their closest friends and family as audiences.

“I was giving a tour to some of our guests before the event and came across a dear friend and fellow dj. We looked at each other, and there was a clear acknowledgment combined with shock of what was happening right then and there. He walked up to me and held my hand tightly and said nothing, but also everything the way he looked at me, that really got to me— and I saw why we needed to make all this happen.”

There is no doubt that MDL Beast is now part of our modern history. MDL Beast’s army of passionate, hardworking, and driven people all contributed to building a new legacy, armed with a rhythm that brought a nation together.

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Sorry, You do What Again?

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These local designers and brands are turning the world into a Pinterest board, while shifting Saudi’s aesthetic and functional consciousness.


As creatives descended in Riyadh for Saudi Design Week, we saw breakthrough talents and design practitioners rise to the occasion with showcases that marry contemporary design with a unique play on local identity.

The SIKKA Collection by Dahr Design Studio

Dahr Design Studio has been making a name for itself not just in Saudi Arabia but in the region. Speaking to its creative director, AlBara Saimaldahar, we can see the appeal. Their latest collection, SIKKA, breathes new life to forgotten materials—wood and items from the Hejazi railways, no less. Dahr has turned them into contemporary pieces that can definitely spark a conversation.

“Sikka takes our passion for sourcing local materials, designing and transforming them into meaningful experiences of unique and well thought products. In 1951, King Abdulaziz had established the country’s first railway line to transport crude oil with the assistance of ARAMCO. The wood railways served under the heat of the Arabian sun for decades before it got replaced by concrete. 70 years later, we now find ourselves seduced by the impressions and character left on the wood surfaces by its history. And that’s what you see here, each product is delicately designed and manufactured, it’s comfortable, it’s more than a piece of wood, it’ll stand the test of time—as it had in the past.”

Web: dahrdesign.com
Instagram: dahr___

Torba Studio

Torba Studio is a fashion brand based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Designing womenswear, menswear and accessory collections. The name of the brand ‘Torba’ is an Arabic word that means sand. Torba Studio takes its inspiration from the mystery and philosophy of the unknown, spirit and the afterlife. And that’s where the brand’s slogan, ‘See beyond what you can touch’ comes from. They create pieces that play on the brand’s love of thought-provoking ideas and graphics. Torba Studio’s goal is to develop the fashion industry in the region, to reach global markets and to provide jobs in the design field because passion is a way of happiness.

Instagram: torbastudio

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1.9M Followers
//  The Influencer

There is a lack of consensus as to what the exact definition of a social media influencer is. However, it lies somewhere along the lines of being a figure who has gained credibility in a certain topic and has the power to affect followers’ purchase decisions. It’s not merely about the number of followers or popularity, but the trust relationship and engagement between the two parties.  Celebrities, industry experts, thought leaders, and bloggers are various types of influencers. Game-changing influencers share certain characteristics. They are particularly knowledgeable about a certain subject and understand their audience well. Effective communication, persuasion, unique charisma, and the ability to get people to engage with their content is also another important attribute.

Courses on Becoming an Influencer and Strategy:

Web: udemy.com
Web: coursera.org

Wardrobe Wages
// The Personal Shopper

If you have a knack for fashion, are a people person and patience is a virtue of yours, you have negotiation and persuasion skills, and find great satisfaction in helping others look good and hence feel good, this job may be for you. Personal shoppers help one create flattering looks by shopping with you or for you. Working with different body types and clients with varying budgets is their bread and butter. They know their way around the maze and multitude of different shops, and are aware of all the ins and outs of getting great items for competitive prices. Boutiques and department stores aren’t the only places who hire. Nowadays, personal shoppers are needed to put together looks for photoshoots, ads, and TV show hosts as well.

Saudi Personal Shoppers:

Instagram: Styling_diva
Instagram: Hala_alharithy

We’re Live
// The Podcaster

Podcast producers make sure that everything is put together and ready for execution. They recruit guests, write scripts, schedule interviews and session recording times, and  edit, mix, upload, and distribute podcasts. The job is very dynamic and requires time management skills, a love for the audio, audio editing and production skills, and the ability to create great content. Did you know that the first podcast feed was announced back in 2003 before Apple added podcasting to its iTunes in 2005? The Mstdfr Network is Saudi’s first podcast network that has been growing and supporting local talents.

Saudi Podcast Platform & Consultant:

Web: mstdfr.com
Web: khayrab.com

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Have A Lux Ramadan Night

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At Crowne Plaza Riyadh, the RDC Hotel and Convention Center gets inspired by traditional Arabic hospitality. The luxurious Ramadan decoration set up in the Mosaique restaurant is specially designed to treat you and your loved ones to a culinary voyage of discovery across the region; with live cooking stations, authentic dishes, and traditional flavours emblematic to the Holy Month.


Children between 6 to 12 years can enjoy 50% discount and below 6 years can dine for free. In addition to this, there will be an event called (Fawanees Ramadan) featuring kids activities like children’s cinema, oil painting, daily prizes, pottery art, puppet theatre, entertainment shows, and more. By dining in the restaurant, your kids will have special discounts to enjoy the experience. More discounts available on group bookings! Book your private Iftar or Suhoor for your group and enjoy an unforgettable evening filled with refined Arabic cuisine, hospitality, and service. Dine with us during Ramadan and enter in a daily raffle in addition to a chance to win our Grand prize a brand new Ford car 2019 model. At Crowne Plaza RDC hotel and convention, you aspire for it, we bring it to life.

Web: crowneplazardc/ramadan
Crowne Plaza Riyadh – RDC Hotel & convention center
Tel: +966 11 813 1313
Instagram: crowneplazardc

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Enjoy Ramadan at The New Marriott Riyadh Hotel

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Your monthly guide to eating and feasting around Saudi Arabia.


Enjoy a Wadi Haneefa-inspired ambiance at Goji Restaurant. We recommend their Konafa and their organic ice cream! For groups, Alwadi Ballroom can cater to 200 plus customers. You can also dine privately around the outdoor pool.

Location: Courtyard by Marriott Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter Abdullah Al-Sahmi St., Al-Hada Dist. Riyadh
Tel: +966-11-2817300

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In Conversation with Ryan Gliha: US Consul General, Jeddah

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Ryan Gliha is no stranger to Saudi Arabia; he started his diplomatic career on the very shores of Jeddah. Upon his return last September 2018, he assumed the role of Consul General (CG). We sat down with him to better understand the part of consulates, deepening the bilateral relations between the US and KSA, cultural exchange, and our shared love for Al-Baik.


The Consulate General in Jeddah represents and protects the US interest in the entire western region. Under its jurisdiction are all the governorates from Tabuk, Madina, Makkah, to Asir Al Baha, Jizan and Najran. Ryan Gliha as consul general is the representative of the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The Consulate General in Jeddah has a unique history because as many people know, Jeddah used to be the capital of Saudi Arabia. CG Gliha shared gave us its history, “the consulate started as an Embassy back in the 1940’s right after the first meeting between the head of state of our two countries, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz Al Saud. They met on a ship on the Red Sea back in 1947, and after that, we opened an office, which became an embassy.”

When Riyadh became the actual capital of the country, the embassy moved, and we became the Consulate General. Consulates are like little embassies. They do everything that an embassy does except having the ambassador. This changes during the summer. When the Saudi government or  King moves down to Jeddah, so does the US ambassador, so for the few months until December the consulate acts as an embassy.

While processing visa applications is the first thing that comes to mind when the US Embassy is mentioned, it’s just one of many services they provide as a diplomatic mission. Through the office of public affairs, for example, the US consulate runs various programs that directly engage with the local community and the Saudi public at large.

On Education
JP: The United States is one of the popular choices when Saudi students plan on studying abroad. Does the consulate provide any assistance in helping them make informed decisions?

CG: As the consulate, we have an Educational office that has full-time staff and an advisor who would assist the students to decide on what university and program they wanted to take. Even if you haven’t chosen, we will give you a whole menu of options to help you decide. We can accommodate you through online booking too and on the road. We help them choose to make the right choice. It’s important to note that our advisory is not limited to this, we also create opportunities to prepare Saudi students for life in the US.

JP: How are you able to reach students who aren’t necessarily based in the major cities?

CG: We sometimes bring our services and programs on the road. I make some trips on different provinces with some of our staff and look for institutions who might be interested to hear about our educational services and exchange programs.

We also offer much younger programs such as Saudi Youth Leadership Exchange program. We send out dozens of Saudis to the US to exchange experience with their American counterparts as well as Leadership and Personal Development. Our goal for the exchange programs is to capture the diversity of Saudi Arabia. The most important part is to interact with people not just within the major cities but also to different parts of the country.

On Commerce
JP: Apart from the consulate’s educational services, what other interests and opportunities do the US take care of?

CG: We also have a commercial office. American businesses that want to do business here and Saudi Businesses that want to do business in the US. We help them make the right connections. We also have a political office, which covers and tries to report what’s happening politically in the country and they help me in my dealings with all the different officials in the Western side of Saudi Arabia.

JP: With the recent changes in the Kingdom, what industries are American investors interested in?

CG: Energy, Aviation, Transportation, Durable goods, Automobile, a little bit of the Agriculture. However, the growth is with healthcare, services, fitness.

JP: How do you go about making the connection between these brands and companies?

CG: There are two types of mechanisms, through a trade show to invite Saudi Business leaders to visit the US and meet with US companies in specific industries. We’ve put together a trade delegation to learn about opportunities. Reverse trade delegation is the other mechanism where we bring US companies, American business leaders to Saudi Arabia to meet their counterparts and look for opportunities here. Throughout the year we’re running this regularly so it won’t stagnate.

JP: How do you see the Saudi relationship evolving in the next few years?

CG: The relationship between our two countries is based on shared values and interests in the last few decades. What is different now is that there are a lot more opportunities. So if you look at what’s happening in terms of entertainment, movie theaters, these are all opportunities where we can complement. We usually play a coordinating role; it’s good to have to have a light touch by the US government and leave it to the experts.

JP: Lastly, what are you looking forward to now that you’re back?

CG: If I’m going to be honest with you, I immediately looked for AlBaik the moment I got back. My first time in Jeddah,
I was a bachelor, and we’d spend our Fridays going out for shrimp and chicken. I have explored the different regions before, and each one has its charm; this time around I’m looking forward to experiencing Saudi Arabia with my wife and two kids. It would be great to
see what family adventures we can go on together.

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A Brave New Saudi: Reema Al Juffali

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Imagine lights flashing, with a thousand motions happening at once, the sound of revving engines and screeching tires, the smell of burnt rubber filling the air. In the middle of it all is where you’ll find Reema Al Juffali. Saudi woman. Professional race car driver.


What is it about motorsports that got you interested to do professionally? When did your passion for cars begin?

As long as I can remember I have been passionate about cars whether it was naming all the cars I knew at 7 years old, playing with remote control cars or collecting model cars. It has always been a part of my life. I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel, I remember begging to drive around the block every chance I got, barely able to reach the pedals.

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COURTESY PHOTOS

The racing dream came later in life for me. I didn’t grow up around a racing culture and I struggled to imagine even driving a car in Saudi Arabia, let alone representing my country as a female racing driver. I used to think that racing was something you had to grow into from a young age, but after watching my first Le Mans race I realized that some of the drivers were much older than me. That’s when I thought why not? It’s not too late. When I was at university, I joined different track days and that’s when I caught the racing bug.

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COURTESY PHOTOS

What’s the kind of racing you do?

The type of racing I do is called single-seater racing, specifically Formula 4. This season I raced at the F4 British Championship with the Double R Racing team.

What were the challenges you encountered in trying to get into the sport?

In the beginning, it was always about timing. In between my studies and work I could never find the time to race. I also I didn’t know where to start. There are so many different routes you can take and I had a lot of questions, so getting to know people in the industry helped me make these decisions and take the first step. It’s all very new, so most things I didn’t anticipate. I’m consistently in new situations, whether it’s learning a new track, adjusting to the car or weather conditions… it’s constantly changing, and you must adapt. Staying positive and trusting in my ability has helped me overcome this.

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COURTESY PHOTOS

How’s an average day like for you at “work”?

Test days differ to race  days. The day starts off early, I’m at the track by 8am. On a test day, I meet with my team and discuss the plan for the day. For the rest of the day, if I’m not in the car, I’m sitting with my engineer analyzing my laps and figuring out where I can improve. On a race day there are a lot more distractions plus my time on track is limited, you have an hour instead of a full day. It’s important to stay focused and make the most out of the time you have.

It’s only the beginning so I’m learning something new every day, which is a great feeling. I love the feeling and rush I get when I’m behind the wheel, that’s where I’m happiest, but more than that it’s the challenge that keeps me going. In motorsport there are a lot of ups and downs, things don’t always go your way and sometimes they are out of your control. Someone can hit you or something can go mechanically wrong taking you out of the race. At the end of the day, all these things just make winning even sweeter.

“Trust your instincts, don’t be afraid to take risks and go after what you love. Take the first step; it’s always the most difficult.” Reema Al Juffali

Email: info@rj-racing.com
Web: rj-racing.com
Instagram: reemajuffali

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Majeed Abdullah, 31

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Dominance in sport goes beyond the physical; consistent, dedicated training requires mental discipline.


Sport: Ultramarathon, Triathlon, Trail Running
No. of years in sport: 5
Stats:
Ultramarathon (140km run, 8,000km elevation)
Full-Distance Ironman
Tough Mudder
8 Marathons
6 Half-marathons
5 Olympic Distance Triathlon Races
2 Half Ironman Challenges
Training time:
Swimming: 156km/year, 5-8 hours/month
Cycling: 3,013km/year, 15 hours/month
Running: 1,029km/year, 40-60 hours/month

If you see Majeed powering through his runs and slaying burpees with his famous ear-to-ear smile, it’s hard to imagine the asthmatic little boy he once was, growing up on a farm 100km outside of Riyadh. He was, in his own words, the sickly and weakest among his 14 siblings.

After 20 years of regular doctor visits, Majeed decided to quit being sick. When he moved to Canada in 2008, he jumpstarted his transformation – he learned to ski, played varsity table tennis, moved on to bodybuilding (raising his weight from 118lbs to 148lbs), spinning, and running. He also dabbles in gymnastics, football, hiking, and basketball.

In 2014, after two years of being back in Riyadh, Majeed was accidentally thrown into the world of triathlons and endurance sports. “I was invited by a friend to join a bi-athlon, I didn’t know what that was, they just said, ‘swim and run.’ I thought, ok, sounds fun… but I’d never swum in my life! So I just tried to survive and not stop. For the run, not knowing how far 3km was, I stopped when I finished the first lap and went to eat a banana. I heard people yelling at me to keep going.”

This misadventure had Majeed hooked. “I Googled what ‘athlons were when I got home and loved it! I just kept joining them. I don’t really train for them, I just train everyday, for injuries (I’ve had all of them), for fun, for relaxation. It is really about a dedication to a routine, regardless if you have a competition next week or next year.”

His latest feat is finishing a 140km ultra marathon that took him through mountainous terrain, running for 47 hours without sleep.

Despite his achievements, the 31-year-old IT Project Manager doesn’t consider himself an athlete. “I am a screen geek who likes being active. People go on cigarette breaks, I prefer 10 minute pushups. It helps me keep a fresh perspective, and give more in life, because that’s the habit I’ve developed.”

Majeed doesn’t have an end game, only because he would take on anything that allows him to redefine the impossible and know his ultimate limit. All he really wants is for people to share his belief that you can, anywhere, anytime, just go out there and move.

In a month’s time, Majeed will be running 600km across the empty quarter. When asked why he’s doing it, his reply: “Well, it sounds fun.”

Instagram: majeedworld

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Nada Aboalnaja, 33

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Dominance in sport goes beyond the physical; consistent, dedicated training requires mental discipline.


Sport: Squash
No. of years in sport: 10
Stats: First Saudi Open Squash Tournament Champion 2019, Saudi Masters 2017 Champion and Wild Card at the first PSA Women’s Tournament in Riyadh
Training time: 48 hours/ week, 5K runs before competitions, 6 hours strength training or CrossFit

Nada stumbled upon a squash court in 2008 at her local gym. At that time, she was looking for a sport to add to her fitness routine. Little did she know that a decade later, she would become the first Saudi professional squash player in the Kingdom.

Squash ticked off all the checkboxes: she can train alone, it can burn 1,000 calories per hour, and its mental and physical intensity makes boredom unlikely. Nada went from playing for fun to becoming a force on the court when she had her first taste of defeat. “Other players didn’t want to play with me because I was a beginner, so I was determined to be better. Then, I joined the local tournament at my old gym and lost. I didn’t like it, preferred the rush of winning, so ‘become better at squash’ changed to ‘how far can I take this, how can I be the best?’ Yes, I am very competitive,” she ends with a laugh.

This jump-started her quest to learn the finer techniques and movements in squash. Spending a couple of years in France, she got her Master’s degree in Marketing while being a squash player in training. When she returned in 2014, Nada reverted to training solo due to the lack of professional coaches and limited opportunities to compete with other female players.

Training for Nada is systematic and requires discipline, a trait she values in all aspects of her life, “I have a goal-oriented training style, and I’m like that at work, too – I set goals and put in the hours and energy needed; I don’t stop until everything is right.”

In 2017, the country hosted the first Professional Squash Association tournament in Riyadh, giving Nada the opportunity to meet elite players like Nicol David. As a qualifying wildcard, she also played a match with Camille Serme (currently ranked no. 5 in the world). Earlier this year, she won the first Saudi women squash tournament.

Nada has her eyes set on the 2024 Olympics, where squash can possibly debut for the very first time. Wanting to inspire the next generation of women athletes, she hopes to open the first squash academy in the Kingdom. The fact that she can now think of these as possibilities, and the rush of millisecond wins in the box, is what fuels Nada to keep on going and maybe, one day, find herself in the box with Raneem Alweleily.

Instagram: Saudiwomensquash

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