Thu, 22 Apr 2021

by Sanaa Kamal

RAMALLAH, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Contrary to what is common in their society, a group of young Palestinian women takes part in rappelling from the dangerous cliffs in the West Bank.

The four young women were among 15 members of the "Palestine Backpackers" team, who made on Friday their rappelling from a 45-meter-high cliff in Wadi al-Qaf Nature Reserve in Hebron, in the southwestern part of the West Bank.

"It is the third time that I participate in such an activity," Faten al-Shareef, a participant, told Xinhua, adding that she and her teammates were sending a message that this sport was not limited to males only.

The 30-year-old university student said that she resorted to rappelling to get rid of the psychological pressure she suffered from as a result of the unstable political and economic conditions.

"Here, we surrender to nature and breathe fresh air. No one controls us," the young woman said while she was tightening the safety belt on her waist, preparing for the descending that took her 15 minutes and won applause from the excited spectators, who were watching her rappelling from the slope.

"It is an indescribable feeling that the cool breeze of air touches your face while you are between the sky and the earth," she said, adding that she felt at that moment the entire universe was hers.

"For many years, we have been suffering from political conflicts, whether with Israel or the internal Palestinian division, and this led to negative effects on the psyche of all Palestinians."

The young woman believes that such "adventures" create a golden opportunity to set people free and strengthen their minds and bodies.

Faten is not the only one who thinks this way. Dumia Ammar, a 24-year-old dentist who joined the rappelling, has also done so to get rid of her negative energy.

"It's been a year since the West Bank started coping with the spread of the coronavirus, which has caused restrictions on the movement of citizens, led to full or partial closures, and left enormous scars on the psyche of the population. We try to find solutions and extreme sports can be one of them," the young woman said, while she was checking the protective helmet before she started descending.

In addition, the adventure has helped the young woman get rid of her "fear of heights" and she says it gave her pleasure and the ability to overcome her inner fears too.

Both of the young women said that this experience had refilled them with positive energy, and renewed their physical and psychological vitality.

Palestine enjoys varied topography such as mountains, plateaus, plains, and valleys along with a moderate climate, which makes it a magnet for foreign tourists and domestic tourism in all seasons.

It is the beauty of the landscapes that led Aarif al-Owaie from East Jerusalem to the idea of organizing rappelling tours.

The 49-year-old father of six told Xinhua that the climate and geographical terrain here are capable of transforming "our region into a place of pilgrimage for foreign tourists from all over the world."

The middle-aged truck driver said the sport of rappelling is not dangerous, especially if the participants follow all safety instructions.

He explained that he received training from French teams that came to Palestine to train sports enthusiasts.

However, al-Owaie and his students face several difficulties, including the lack of equipment necessary for the landing process and the high prices of the equipment, which prevent many members of his team from participating in all the adventures.

Al-Owaie hopes that the local authorities will pay attention to such sports and invest in them as it could potentially contribute to local tourism.

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