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Saudi company Captain Fili Marine Adventures offers unique, sustainable marine tourism 

JEDDAH: A new Saudi company is aiming to become a top destination for luxury marine adventures and cruising activities, offering getaways for both leisure and sport fishing.

Captain Fili Marine Adventures helps customers plan sustainable and customizable trips across the Kingdom’s Red Sea coastline.

“We’re trying to focus on luxury, so we’re going above and beyond to give that experience of hospitality … you’re going to have a unique experience where you know the area, the history, the feeling that there’s no stone left unturned,” Abdullah Kurashi, co-founder of CFMA, told Arab News. 

The company was founded by Abdulrahman Al-Felali, known as Captain Fili, and co-founded by Kurashi after the duo discovered their passion for life on the water. 

They hope to make something unique out of the venture by elevating the customer experience on deck. 

Al-Felali has loved the sea and fishing from a young age. His interest grew into an extensive 15 years of experience in sport fishing and marine tourism.

The company’s 42-foot-long vessels, fully equipped with two Mercury 400 engines, seats 12 people on the teak wood-accented deck, allowing an intimate experience onboard.

Captain Fili Marine Adventures’ main offerings include a sport fishing package, a modern way of fishing using the latest top-of-the-line technologies and techniques, across an eight-10 hour trip. 

“Captain Fili Adventures brings a new dimension to sport fishing in Jeddah, a comfortable boat run by guys that know the fish and the waters and do whatever they can to ensure that you have a great day on the water,” said Mohammad Sahhaf, who joined the crew on a sport fishing trip. 

Captain Fili uses local fishing knowledge to scout unique locations and champion sustainable methods. 

“The old ways of fishing, people used to use the hand line and the bait, that’s it. What we do in sport fishing is we use modern equipment like the reel and rods, and we use special lines. There are a lot of technical details related to sport fishing and a lot of factors that you need to take into consideration to achieve a successful strike (or a fish),” the captain told Arab News. 

The company promotes the three Rs: Reduce, reuse and recycle, through incorporating biodegradable and reusable materials throughout their trips, minimizing plastic use, targeting specific fish species and practicing catch and release.

With sustainability at the heart of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, from policy development to infrastructure, CFMA takes the initiative from a grassroots level. 

One of the most threatening factors to marine environments are commercial fishing techniques, which quite often involve trawling, where a large net is dragged on the ocean floor, disturbing the seabed underneath.

This also threatens specific species of fish through bycatch, the discarded catch unwanted, unneeded, or not fit to sell.

A report by Greenpeace found that 640,000 tons of ghost gear — fishing equipment waste — litters the ocean every year. 

“We are very aware of the species that we are targeting (when fishing) and we are very aware of the health of marine ecosystems,” the captain said.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of tools mariners have to use and we’re no exception, but we reuse anything that’s harmful to the environment or not use it at all,” Kurashi added.

CFMA also creates opportunities for people to learn how to fish for themselves, educating them on  proper equipment and teaching hands-on techniques in an attempt to discourage commercial fishing. 

“If you have a lot of people getting their own source of food the sustainable (way), they start to appreciate nature even more. That becomes a love and respect for nature,” Kurashi said. 

The company also offers customizable half-day leisure trips and 24-hour island-hopping adventures across the Red Sea coast, exposing both locals and tourists to the hidden gems that Saudi Arabia has to offer. 

“We consider this program the ultimate Saudi beach experience. The guests will depart on our boat and go and visit virgin islands in the middle of the sea. 

“Guests can enjoy fun in the sun, stargazing at night, nature, wildlife and lots more activities — campfires at night. This program is something we’re proud of. It’s what makes us unique from other companies,” the captain said. 

Other on and off board activities include tanning, waterbeds, snorkeling, swimming, water games, scuba diving, in collaboration with an authorized diving center, and music.

CFMA also collaborates with local talent to bring lively and lavish experiences from land to sea. One of their trips featured a Jeddah-based DJ, VoidKid, who sets the scene with melodic house music. 

The true appeal of these trips is the exhilarating full experience for the body and soul.

“When our clients come on a trip with us, we would make sure that we indulge all their five senses; they would see beautiful places, smell the fresh air of the sea, feel the water when they’re swimming, taste the freshest catch ever, hear the sounds of the waves and the birds — that’s what we focus on,” Captain Fili said. 

Saudi actor Aziz Garbawi told Arab News of his experience: “The boat trip was incredibly beautiful, especially when we went to that small island, it was insane. Abdullah did a great job managing, organizing, cooking, fishing, swimming … everything was uniquely organized. I recommend this trip to everyone because it’s worth it.”

Ultimately, the two founders hope to grow the industry within the region and pursue their goal of discovering the hidden treasures of the region and presenting them to international visitors. 

The company is also scheduled to operate activities during the 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar. 

“We want the market to grow because we want more people around the world coming. The better the market does, the better we do. We’re very proud that we’re spearheading a lot of progress in marine tourism, but we’re more than happy to see it grow all around,” Kurashi said.

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