Defying disability, ex-airman soars

Mohammed Al-Sharif
Mohammed Al-Sharif

Mohammed Al-Sharif

A young Saudi has become the first person with a disability to take up paragliding in the Middle East.

Mohammed Al-Sharif startled people on Thursday in Riyadh when he participated in a paragliding event, a local publication reported. Al-Sharif is a former air defense officer who was paralyzed in an accident in 2005.

He did not allow this to hold him back and has now also become a specialist in entertainment therapy and a skilled trainer in the use of wheelchairs. He custom-built his own paragliding outfit, and is a registered trainer at the Aviation Academy in Riyadh.

Al-Sharif said he does it as a hobby on the weekends. He urged people to view those with disabilities as normal rather than with pity or as able bodied. He said the public must try to find the proper balance. He said “special needs” is a medical term that should not be used to describe people with disabilities continually.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Disabled Children’s Association, said that efforts are continuing to help people become more functional, and that they should form a body to help themselves.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Mohammed, chairman of the Amal charitable organization, said that the sessions were aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities, in line with the directives of the government.


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