It’s been more than a year since Rafael Howell, a British-Filipino kid from Siargao Island, set out as Saudi Arabia’s first surf grom. In a country with millions of kids, he’s the only one gliding along the occasional Persian Gulf wave.
While the Kingdom has changed for the better in many ways recently, security services have stepped up their activity along the shoreline. Ever suspicious of potential infiltration by Iranian elements, the increased patrols have turned Rafael’s surfing sessions into a cat and mouse game. Of course, they don’t think we’re infiltrators but the police simply don’t understand surfing. So they stop and tell him to get out of the sea whenever they find him chasing a few waves. In addition, the sandstorms which frequently arrive with the swell make it even harder to stay in the sea. However, none of these challenges have prevented Rafael from continuing the grom life in the most unlikely place on earth.