RIYADH, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Mona al-Khurais has loved guns ever since as a young girl her father took her on hunting trips in Saudi Arabia and taught her how to shoot.
Five years ago, she turned that passion into her profession, receiving coaching in Saudi and abroad to become a licensed firearms trainer.
The 36-year-old now teaches shooting at Top Gun firing range in Riyadh, with more and more women joining her classes.
“I am so happy to practice my passion and my hobby as a coach and a range safety officer,” Khurais said.
“Hopefully, I can share my experience with Saudi girls, to encourage them to enter this difficult field that was previously reserved for men.”
Khurais was one of the exhibitors at the Saudi Falconry and Hunting show, an annual exhibition in Riyadh showcasing manufacturers specialising in hunting weapons.
Exhibitors displayed pistols, sniper rifles, hunting rifles and semi-automatic weapons as well as hunting paraphernalia. Visitors with gun licenses can buy the weapons on show.
Attitudes towards women have been changing in the conservative kingdom, with women making steady gains in the work force by taking up jobs in a range of professions.
Khurais, however, initially faced problems working in a male-dominated environment.
“The difficulties that I faced were the criticisms from women, which was surprising to me as I was expecting it from men,” she said.
As more girls and women learn to handle guns, Khurais hopes their attitudes will change and that she can inspire them.
“My goal is one day to participate in the Olympics,” she said.
Reporting by Mohammed Benmansour; writing by Dubai newsroom, editing by Ed Osmond