Who’s who: CEO of the Rakan Al-Huthali group at ROSHN

Who’s who: CEO of the Rakan Al-Huthali group at ROSHN

RIYADH: Catmosphere’s second annual catwalk to raise awareness for endangered wildlife and collective well-being drew thousands of participants from across the Kingdom and around the world on Saturday.
“We were thrilled that the inaugural Catwalk in 2021 received such overwhelming support, showing a huge appetite for our message and support for action to conserve iconic big cats around the world,” said Princess Reema Bandar, founder of Catmosphere.
This year’s Catwalk is expected to be much larger than last year’s, which saw 27,000 participants in 102 countries.
In the Kingdom alone, more than 50 organized walks were held, with the participation of many cities, including Asir, Riyadh, Alkhobar, Dharan, Al-Qassim, Makkah, Jeddah and Jazan.
The official number of participants has not yet been announced, but this year’s attendance already appears to be higher than last year’s first Catwalk.
Catwalk is an annual global event that invites people to participate in a 7 km walk to promote the interconnected well-being and preservation of wildlife, including the seven big cats: tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs and snow leopards, with a focus on the endangered Arabian leopard.
This year, various venues in Riyadh hosted the catwalk, including Diriyah, the Diplomatic Quarter, the Riyadh Front and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
One of the participants, Amirulhusni Sahar walked in Diriyah. He said that part of his family participated in the first Catwalk, but this is his first time.
“I am here with my family and we also represent Malaysia,” said Sahar, the first secretary of the Malaysian Embassy.
Sian Tichar, campaign manager for Catwalk in Riyadh, explained Catmosphere’s mission to promote collective well-being.
“The concept of collective well-being means that in order to have a healthy planet we need healthy people. What the Gateway does is invite people to take a walk outdoors. If you walk outside, you are likely to feel better about yourself and notice nature, and if you care about nature, you will care about wildlife,” said Sian Tichar.
“Princess Reema’s initiative, the Catmosphere Foundation and its flagship campaign, Catwalk, invite you to walk and learn about the stories of big cats and the challenges they face in interpreting the concept of collective well-being,” he added.
Tichar said that last year during the first Footbridge many people took the opportunity to pick up trash and plant trees.
“I am very proud to be part of the Catwalk team and very excited to see Arabia leading by example in supporting causes that help promote collective well-being.”
Diriyah Gate CEO Jerry Inzerillo joined this year’s Catwalk in the historic downtown. Many Saudi Scouts were on hand to help and guide the participants throughout the walk, while a Saudi Games mascot greeted the children and snacks and drinks were provided before and after the walk.
Northeast of the Riyadh Catmosphere festivities, Alkhobar Corniche came to life as locals joined in the annual Catwalk.
Families gathered at a spot overlooking Alkhobar’s water tower as excited children, many of whom had their faces painted with the image of a wild cat, joined the walk.
“It’s a good turnout and it’s quite interesting for the kids – they’re excited to see something different after a long time. Most of these animals are in the endangered category, so it’s interesting to see how artists have come up with different variations and colors,” Shaila G., a local resident, told Arab News.
One of the participating artists, Reem Alsaaq, had her brush at the ready and was adding color on the spot.
“I found out about this event through my local artist group. I was asked to paint something alive on the ledge and I decided to recreate the image of a wild cat that seems to be reflecting on life,” Alsaaq told Arab News.
Laura Masoni found out about the event through her precinct.
“I am very sensitive to animal and wildlife issues. We are here with my family and friends of my children to all be together and do something for a good cause,” she said.
Giovanni Gennari added: “it is a very important cause to protect our environment. It was a good day and a good way to get away from home and tablets and video games. The day is perfect.
The walkway was held at three different locations in the city of Jeddah, including the Corniche, Prince Majed Park and the Prince Fawaz walkway.
Wesam Zailai, general manager of the Gateway: said: “The event is divided into two categories, walking and running, and three distances: 1 km, 3.5 km and 7 km to preserve the Arabian leopard.”
He added: “We have 300 adults and 150 children participating today.”
Saudi entrant Abdulrahman Al-Enizi, 43, was the first place winner on the Jeddah Corniche Footbridge.
After running the 7km in 24 minutes, Al-Enizi told Arab News: “I am very happy with this initiative and I showed up today to support the cause and spread awareness on how to save the Arabian leopard from extinction. Personally, I appreciate sports, especially walking, which improves physical and mental health.”
Al-Enizi arrived with his 6-year-old son Abdulmalik, who joined the children’s 1km category.
Arab News also interviewed children in the Kingdom to find out what they know about the Arabian leopard and what can be done to help the endangered species.
Saudi Raed Jawa, 13, said the Arabian leopard is “considered one of the largest Arabian cats and is the most endangered animal.”
However, Jawa said his favorite big cat is the lynx. “There are many endangered animals that I love and want to see,” he added.
His sister, Hala, 11, explained that the Arabian leopard belongs to the feline family of carnivorous mammals and is found in the Arabian Peninsula.
“My favorite big cat is the tiger,” he said.
“I’m so glad we have animal conservancies in this country because I love animals.”
Bangladeshi Aleena Haque, 9, said her favorite big cats are lions, leopards, cheetahs and Bengal tigers.
He is concerned that the Arabian leopard is an endangered species. “I am worried that it will become extinct because I love animals very much,” he told Arab News.
In 2021, Catmosphere was launched by Princess Reema, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, who is on a mission to safeguard the future of the big cats. The nonprofit organization aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, a US-based charity dedicated to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.

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