JEDDAH: After rave parties, film festivals, and fashion shows, the Saudi Arabian government has opened up stunning beaches for water activities including flyboarding.
The flyboard, a hydro-flight apparatus that uses propulsion to drive a board into the air to perform tricks and maneuvers, was created in 2012 by French watercraft rider Franky Zapata.
Arab News reported that the art of water hoverboarding is practiced by Layan Al-Azhari, a Saudi woman who teaches flyboarding wherever she finds a body of water deep enough to support the board and large enough to fly over.
“I enjoy all types of sports, and I’ve tried horseback riding, scuba diving, and flyboarding, which is my new passion,” Al-Azhari told Arab News.
“I met Mussab Felemban, who’s a flyboard instructor, 10 months ago, and he taught me everything I know about flyboarding, and now it’s a part-time job for me at Al-Ashoor Island beach in Jeddah,” she said.
After Al-Azhari, who is a sales representative for a local bank, discovered a passion for watersports she decided to achieve creativity in the sport. She is also now an instructor.
“Running from my desk job, I saw people on the beach playing this game, and I was amazed by how high they could get in the air with the flyboard, and I had to try it for myself,” she said.
Al-Azhari is active on social media, especially on TikTok, where she has gathered more than 96,000 followers in only two months. “Many women come to me on the beach to teach them the sport, which is a great indicator that the women in society are interested in playing a sport,” she said.
A joint memorandum of understanding has now been signed by the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development with the intention of boosting Saudization and empowering women in the watersports and diving industry.
The agreement also aims to increase the proportion of women participating in the labor force through private-sector businesses engaged in diving and watersports.