Mohammad Al Darwish: Driven by heartbreak to transform body and mind
Bullied as a young boy, the Aramco building inspector made a promise to himself he’d become bigger and stronger. Today, he’s a body builder champion.
“In high school, my weight was too low, and I was very small,” says Mohammad Abdullah Al Darwish. “Some of the boys would bully me. They would pick me up and throw me like a ball. I was very upset — it broke my heart.”
Al Darwish, a building inspector with Aramco’s Office Services Department, made a promise to himself: he would become bigger and stronger. Little did he know back then that this promise would become one of his most important life goals — instilling in him a remarkable discipline and an unwavering determination.
Six meals a day
Today, Al Darwish trains six times a week and follows a strict and precise diet that involves eating six meals per day, including breakfasts of half a dozen egg whites and two whole eggs. He now weighs a considerable 75kg — and can peak at more than 80kg — meaning he’ll never be thrown around again.
Such has been Al Darwish’s dedication to transforming his body and his mind that during the past few weeks, he won gold in the Saudi Arabian Eastern Championship, two golds in the Saudi Kingdom Championship (including an overall gold medal), and bronze in the Saudi Classic Championship. In case it’s not clear from these achievements or the photographs, Al Darwish is a champion bodybuilder.
Mahdi Qabqab, Office Services Department (OSD) building supervisor, is one of Al Darwish’s most ardent supporters, and helps keep him focused when training schedules ramp up before competitions.
Qabqab says that Al Darwish is a key member of the OSD team, and that his strength of character shines through into his work, as with his sport. OSD management consistently encourages its talented people to reach their full potential, inside and outside of work.
Calm and gentle
“Mohammad is passionate about both his work and his sporting performance,” Qabqab says. “He is very active, and works hard. But although he is extremely strong, he is calm, gentle, and kind with his colleagues. It is inspiring to see what he achieves.”
Aramco is the perfect place for me to work, with its focus on excellence.
— Mohammad Al Darwish
“I try to be as committed and disciplined in my job as in my training. But of course, I need help. Without support, you can’t do anything – it would be like having one hand tied behind your back,” says Al Darwish.
With this, Al Darwish, who has worked with Aramco for more than 13 years, looks toward his supervisor, Qabqab, and pats his shoulder. “This guy pulls me up,” he says. “He is with me and tells me never give up.”
Similarly, Al Darwish’s colleagues share in his pain — “they help me keep going when I have to limit my carbohydrate intake; when I feel I have no power” — just as they have celebrated his victories throughout the years.
But Al Darwish credits his wife as being his secret weapon. “It’s difficult to sacrifice time with my family, but my wife understands everything about me. She pushes me when I need it, and she is always there for me and my two sons.”
These two boys, ages 13 and 12, are understandably proud of their father, and recently even joined Al Darwish on stage to collect his gold medal at the Saudi Arabian Eastern Championship. While both are still a little young for bodybuilding, Al Darwish encourages them — and his friends and colleagues — to follow their dreams. But he warns — it’s not easy.
“You have to be patient,” he explains. “Nothing comes easy. You have to push hard — fight even — to achieve your goals. You need help, but if it isn’t in your heart, you will never do it. If it is in your heart, be strong and it will come.”
Caption for top photo: Mohammad A. Al Darwish, center, is pictured with Central Area Office Services Division head Mohammed I. Al Sadaan, left, and Office Services Department manager (A) Abdullah S. Al Shemaly, right.