The King Fahd Coastal City - Enjoying Recreational Activities on the Red Sea

Built on a lagoon on the Red Sea, the King Fahd Coastal City in Jeddah provides a healthy recreational environment for all.

Maintaining fitness and good health is a trend which has been growing worldwide in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, people are also looking towards regular exercise through athletics and leisure activities as a way to improve their lifestyle and overall health. The result of such a trend has been the provision of a wide variety of opportunities for everyone in the Kingdom to participate in a number of sports and other leisure activities.

One of the principal organizations involved in the promotion of exercise in the Kingdom is the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (GPYW). Established in 1974, the GPYW continually works towards a lofty yet achievable goal: to make sporting, recreational and cultural facilities accessible to young Saudis throughout the country and to get as many people interested and involved in these activities as possible. Based in Riyadh, the GPYW maintains branch offices in every major city and district in order to meet this ambitious goal through four separate departments - sports, cultural activities, social programs and support services.

The work that the GPYW devotes to sports is in addition to the activities organized through the physical education programs and facilities within the school systems and at Saudi universities and colleges. Next to the educational system, the GPYW is the primary provider of recreational facilities and programs for young people. Ranging from huge complexes known as ³Sports Cities² to small public playgrounds in the hearts of local neighborhoods, the facilities meet the needs of every Saudi from the experienced professional athlete down to the child picking up a soccer ball for the first time.

In addition to a variety of water sports, the complex offers a range of other recreational activities, including badminton (top), basketball, tennis, volleyball and billiards (above).

The GPYW took its venture in a different direction when it created two coastal sports cities on the beautiful seacoasts of the Arabian Peninsula. The idea was to create a ³club² atmosphere specializing in various water sports and other activities. For a small membership fee, people can join the coastal city and as members take advantage of the modern recreational facilities, restaurants and other functions sponsored at the complex. One such facility was built in the Eastern Province on the Arabian Gulf and is located at Al-Khobar on Half Moon Bay.

The King Fahd Coastal City was established in 1983 at Al-Hamra beach in the city of Jeddah. Built at a cost of 210 million Saudi riyals (56 million U.S. dollars), the facility offers individual, group and corporate memberships. Open throughout the year, the center is visited by close to 100,000 people annually. Situated on the Red Sea, the complex offers a scenic vista for members to relax while at the same time offering a number of activities for both children and adults.

The sea is the focal point for many of the outdoor activities. A marina is the setting for water sports including boating, water skiing and wind surfing. The Coastal City also boasts a large swimming pool. Members can take advantage of swimming lessons or participate in competitions held regularly at the pool. Tournaments are also organized at the tennis courts located on the grounds.

For indoor activities, the King Fahd Coastal City utilizes a large sports hall which includes a gymnasium measuring forty by twenty-five meters. Regularly used for both basketball and volleyball, the sports hall is also the setting for demonstrations and classes in Taekwando and wrestling. Next to the sports hall is a twelve lane bowling alley and four international-standard squash courts. There is also a large fitness and conditioning room equipped with a variety of the latest exercise machines including exercise bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines, stair- masters, weight-training equipment and free weights.

The large pool, bowling lanes, weight room are popular with young visitors.

The King Fahd Coastal City is not entirely devoted to sports and athletics. There is also a main "club house" where there are a number of board games, table tennis, pool tables and other recreational facilities. There is also a state-of-the-art television and video room in addition to a Membersı Library. In an attempt to attract a wide range of members and to make full use of the complex, the GPYW allocated sufficient space for conferences and seminars. In recent years the Coastal City has hosted a number of conferences which have covered scientific topics such as advancements in eye surgery and computers, in addition to those devoted to culture including books and traditional art and poetry. Some events are held in a 450-seat theater which is equipped with audio and visual technology suitable for many types of presentations.

The activities at the King Fahd Coastal City are supported by a large staff which manages the entire facility. A food and beverage department operates a number of snack bars throughout the complex while the Lagoon Restaurant, a formal dining room overlooking the water, seats up to three hundred people. Other staff members devote their time to sports instruction, coaching and organizing activity programs for the members.

The King Fahd Coastal City is a unique example of the opportunities available to Saudi families interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through sports and recreation. Plans are underway to expand the existing complex in Jeddah, and due to the success of the two coastal cities, studies are being conducted to determine where other such facilities might flourish.

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