OmanPride: Saeid Al Farisi is building a community of Parkour enthusiasts
September 23, 2017 | 6:54 PM
by Salim Al Afifi
Parkour is a dangerous sport if not done with care and while ensuring the safety measures. Photo by Shabin E.

The sport of Parkour has become trendy in the Gulf region, with an underground, sub-culture of its own, where traceurs (also called jumpers) indulge in outdoor gymnastic activities that involve freestyle movements, such as climbing, jumping, vaulting, and swinging against obstacles.

In Oman, the sport has developed a niche following with many parkour practitioners from around the Sultanate, who have gathered to form a community to further perfect their acrobatic skills and raise awareness about the adrenaline-pumping sport.

Twenty-year-old Saeid Al Farisi, a parkour practitioner from Quriyat, said the sport had helped him develop a sense of discipline and improved physical strength as it is a full body workout that requires stamina, but it is just starting to blossom in Oman with more than 30 practitioners around the country.

Swinging from metal bars, climbing walls, and gliding under benches in rapid and accurate moves are some of the few things that set this sport apart. Though this may sound extreme, but in Oman there’s a group of parkour fanatics, who perform the sport carefully with safety in mind.

The self-taught jumper was inspired by international stuntmen and began his mission of establishing the sport in the country. In return, he gained a massive following on social media for his stunts and moves, which helped him communicate with fellow practitioners from all over the Sultanate to form a community of jumpers, making their moves on farms, hills, and rooftops.

Young jumpers in town lacked a platform for their craft as it is still a new sport in Oman. And some of the reasons that contribute to having no designated clubs for it is the misconception that Parkour is dangerous. “Parkour is a dangerous sport if not done with care and while ensuring the safety measures. You need to be physically and mentally ready for taking risks and challenges,” said Saeid, adding that “the adrenaline rush is unbelievable.”

This art of movement came into the limelight with an award-winning documentary in 2003 and became a widely known emerging discipline with clubs, communities, and competitions scattered around the globe, dedicating a place to hone traceurs and their skills. It evolved from an underground, low-key fitness to a cultural phenomenon that was celebrated and practised passionately by people of all ages.

Saeid seems to be on the right track as far as influencing and raising awareness goes. He has more than 32,000 Instagram followers that celebrate his talent. “I feel that the society supports me all the way, especially on social media and their encouragement is priceless.” The jumper has countless videos of him practicing in public places, such as parks, hilly areas, desert dunes, mountains, beaches, and his favourite spot — the Ruwi clock tower.

Jumping from one rooftop to another is one of the best parts of this sport, but according to Saeid, it may not be allowed in Oman for safety reasons, and especially because buildings in Oman are located far from one another, making it impossible. Instead, the jumpers practice on land, taking advantage of Oman’s diverse nature. Saeid’s biggest dream is to participate in the Kuwait Annual Parkour competition, where he could make himself and his country proud.

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