The King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Talent and Creativity (Mawhiba ), in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, inaugurated the first training course in Science Olympiad in Mathematics, Physics, Science, Chemistry and Biology, on Monday.
The program is held annually in the field and in each year students are nominated for training courses for international participation
The basic courses for Olympiad training will be held in several cities in the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Ahsa, Madinah, Dammam , Yanbu, Jubail and Makkah.
The courses are scheduled to run through December 6, providing 139 basic courses.
The basic courses will be held in cooperation with the Education Department of Makkah, the Royal Commission in Jubail and Yanbu, the schools of Dar Al-Zikraalah in Jeddah and the Al-Ruwad Model House for Girls in Jeddah, Al-Anjal Boys and Girls Schools in Al-Ahsa, Al-Husan Model Schools for Boys and Girls, Dammam), and the schools of Tahdhib in the Eastern Province, schools and lighthouses in Sharqiyah, Riyadh, Medina and Jeddah.
The King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for the Gifted and Creativity (KACFGC), or “Mawhiba,” has organized the program in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud speaks during the FII conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AFP)
Given Saudi Arabia’s large youth population, itis believed that pumping more money into this sector could give a boost to both young people and the national economy
An eSports federation — known formally as the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports — was launched last year
RIYADH: Greater investment in eSports would boost the Saudi economy and help young gamers better compete in the global — if virtual — arena, one of the Kingdom’s top sporting officials has said.
Princess Reema bint Bandar, of the General Sport Authority, told the Future Investment Initiative that the Saudi gaming sector is “ripe for investment” — and that extra funds could help take it to the next level.
An eSports federation — known formally as the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports — was launched last year.
Given Saudi Arabia’s large youth population, pumping more money into this sector — by, for instance, opening a gaming college or running gaming tournaments — could give a boost to both young people and the national economy, Princess Reema said.
“We truly believe that this is a sector that we can develop and grow, and is ripe for investment,” she said.
Princess Reema pointed to South Korea as a country with a healthy eSport industry.
“In South Korea, the gaming industry is probably around a $4 billion addition to the GDP … imagine if we were able
to do that here in Saudi Arabia?” she said.
“What does that look like? That looks like a gaming college or a university, that looks like gaming-training programs; investments in infrastructure and buildings that allow for these young people to not only participate in the game, but also educate others to be physically active.”
The official acknowledged that some people would need to be convinced that video gaming was actually a sport — adding that she encourages eSports to be recognized by the Olympics.
But Princess Reema said that another factor was that young people could be encouraged to do more physical activity — because it can help them “up their gaming level” in the virtual field.
In August, Saudi teenager Mosaad Aldossary picked up a $250,000 prize when he won the global FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final.
More than 20 million gamers vied for a spot in the annual eWorld Cup, with just 32 making it to the finals. Competitors play the FIFA 18 football video game.
RIYADH — In what considered to be the first appearance of the electric car racing series in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is scheduled to host the opening round of The ABB FIA Formula E Championship. ABB Formula E is set to make its debut in Ad Diriyah, Riyadh this December for the very first time as part of a 10-year agreement with the General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.
The Vice Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, described Formula E as “the motorsport of the future”, and having Saudi Arabia hosting the championship is “an exciting opportunity as the race aligns perfectly with the country’s 2030 vision.”
ABB FIA Formula E championship is the world’s first fully electric street racing series holding its races in the middle of the world’s capital cities. Vehicles are entirely battery-powered with a top speed of 225km/h. The fifth season, starting in Riyadh, will feature new cities, new rules, and most importantly, new teams, like BMW and Nissan, driving in brand new Generation 2 cars.
Formula E partnered with ABB, which considered to be a global leader in the deployment of sustainable energy and e-mobility solutions. Through this partnership, Both Formula E and ABB can further push the boundaries of e-mobility and contribute to a more sustainable solutions that explores the role of using clean sources of energy, which, consequently, allows adapting to the unforeseen future changes while optimizing the use of existing technology and supporting future innovations. This results in minimizing environmental impacts, providing a green and sustainable atmosphere to users and their environment.
Bringing Formula E to Saudi Arabia is a big milestone in achieving the country’s Vision 2030 goals. — SG
Manchester United, which boasts stars such as Paul Pogba, is reportedly a target for investment by Saudi Arabia.
By Sam Bridge
Manchester United, one of the world’s richest football clubs, is reportedly a target for investment by Saudi Arabia.
Media reports in the UK say the Gulf kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wants to follow in footsteps of the Abu Dhabi-based owners of Manchester City.
Reports claimed that the crown prince is set to meet with the Glazer family to discuss the matter but it is thought that even if United’s owners were willing to consider selling, it would cost the Saudis more than £3 billion.
Buying into United would be a massive statement by Saudi Arabia but the Glazers’ attitude to selling all or part of the club they have owned since 2005 is unclear, reports added.
Saudi Arabia is reportedly wanting to emulate the success of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour who bought Manchester City 10 years ago.
Over the past decade, Mansour has bankrolled a spending spree of around £1.2 billion that ended Manchester United’s reign as the dominant team in town, while turning City into a domestic giant with three Premier League titles, three League Cups and one FA Cup in their trophy cabinet since the takeover
The headlining Smith vs. Groves bout was a brilliant finale to a night of excellent boxing. Fighters from around the globe put on a spectacle that wowed the Saudi crowd and put Jeddah on the boxing map. (Action Images via Reuters)
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The headlining Smith vs. Groves bout was a brilliant finale to a night of excellent boxing. Fighters from around the globe put on a spectacle that wowed the Saudi crowd and put Jeddah on the boxing map. (AFP)
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The King Abdullah Sports City was the venue for Saudi Arabia’s first ever world-class fight night. The famous arena was packed as Callum Smith knocked out George Groves to claim the Muhammad Ali trophy. (AFP)
Fans in the stands, boxers in the ring, heroes from the past all agree — this was one knock-out event
The event was hailed as a resounding success by fighters past and present on a memorable sporting night
JEDDAH: One fighter took home $10 million and the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy, the other took home $5 million — but the real winners on a historic night in Jeddah were the Saudi boxing fans.
Thousands of them packed the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Friday to watch Callum Smith, from Liverpool, beat Londoner George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series final to become the new WBA super-middleweight champion.
The first professionally sanctioned fight night in Saudi history came with a sense of wonder and excitement; an aura of mystique that was enhanced by subtleties such as the hazy mist emitted from the swinging light projectors surrounding the ring.
The atmosphere and energy generated by the crowd was infectious. The constant stomping of feet caused the floor to rumble, a vent for fans eager to release the excitement within. The combination of crowd cheers, jeers, and whistles, along with constant camera flashes and blaring music, created a sort of twilight zone of sensory overload. Thousands of smartphones among the crowd, their flashlights turned on, illuminated the arena like fireflies on a summer night.
“This experience was amazing,” said Ahmed Saif, a lawyer from Jeddah. “Having the opportunity to witness live boxing makes us so happy. Tonight had everything. Decisions and knockouts. Both Saudi fighters also won their fights so we are all very proud of them.”
Before, Saif would always be looking elsewhere on extended weekends to have fun and disconnect from work. “We used to travel for these kinds of events and the expenses for travel and logistics were always felt. Now the entertainment is coming to us, the ticket prices are affordable as well, so we are very happy and just thankful to both the GSA and GEA (General Sport Authority and General Entertainment Authority) for continuing to bring these fun and exciting events to Saudi Arabia.”
The event was hailed as a resounding success by fighters past and present on a memorable sporting night. The crowd appeared to side with Smith during the fight and the new champion was full of praise for his hosts.
“There were a lot of questions when it was announced, but Jeddah has been brilliant,” he said. “The people we’ve met, the hotel — they can’t do enough for me. I’ve been here nearly a week and they’ve made it as comfortable as possible.
“I can’t praise the tournament enough. The atmosphere was just as good as any I’ve boxed in front of. I got a great reception, as did George, and I want to thank the people of Saudi Arabia for that.”
Smith’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has put on boxing shows all over the world and was impressed by Saudi Arabia’s maiden offering, applauding the vision of organisers.
He said: “When you come in here and see the arena and the atmosphere and the way the sport has been welcomed to this region, it makes you realise that boxing is a global sport.
“It’s tough to build from a blank canvas in terms of commission, infrastructure, anti-doping, paramedics. We didn’t know what to expect, so congratulations for trying to push the boundaries.”
For the two local Saudi fighters on the card, Zuhayr Al-Qahtani and Abdulfatah Julaidan, it was the opportunity of a lifetime in Jeddah. A partisan home support waved flags and made their voices heard, helped by the fact both men delivered convincing points victories.
“I just wanted to have fun and show the crowd what I can do,” said Al-Qahtani, who continued the unbeaten start to his professional career. “I loved it every second of it.
“It was everything I hoped for and more. I have struggled all my life, performing all over the world and getting booed — today I felt proud to be King of the Ring in Saudi Arabia.
“Wembley has had its time. The 02 has had its time. Las Vegas has had its time. Now it’s our time; it’s Saudi time.”
Julaidan, who won his second pro fight just two weeks after his first, added: “It is an amazing feeling — a first victory in my country is something I can’t describe but we did it.
“This was a victory for Saudi Arabia as much as for me and it is a dream come true. To have kids waiting there for me, asking for my autograph — this is a night I will never forget.”
The youthful make-up of the crowd will have been encouraging to organisers Comos and the GSA, who hope the event will be a launching pad for the sport in the Kingdom.
And the appetite for boxing did not go unnoticed by legendary British fighter Prince Naseem Hamed.
The former three-weight champion, who was born to Yemeni parents, commands great respect in the region thanks to his Arab roots.
He addressed the crowd in Arabic and English, saying: “I feel honoured to be in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a breakthrough with our first major fight in Jeddah. It’s great to be a part of it — there were some good fights, and a great atmosphere.
“It would have been amazing to fight here. It wasn’t written for me but I’m here today to witness history, and I am proud.”
JEDDAH — The executive head of the Saudi Sports Media Federation Dr. Raja Allah Al-Sulami welcomed the guests of the AIPS ASIA Congress to the Kingdom to attend this international event.
The Saudi government supports and empowers the sports sector in the Kingdom and His Excellency the consultant, Turki Al-Shaikh, has already focused on reviving the Saudi and Asian sports media.
Federation member Dr. Turki Al-Awad said the federation has been trying to have an international impact since its first meeting.
“We want to give the Saudi media the status it deserves. Hosting the congress meetings in Jeddah is a great way to show our presence and proactiveness in the field of sports reporting. We are honored and pleased to host our colleagues and sports reporters from all over Asia and from other continents as well,” said Al-Awad.
He added that the congress meeting will host the executive head of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), the executive head of the European Sports Press Union, the executive head of the American Sports Press Union and the executive head of the African Sports Press Union will all be attending the congress meetings held in Jeddah.
The executive head of Sports Media Adel Al-Zahrani said Jeddah will be an important historical turning point where important discussion will take place and decisions will be made.
“The meetings will host the elite journalists and sports reporters from all over the world as well regional and international executives in the sports media sphere. The Kingdom is taking strong strides in sports and is becoming an important voice in the arena,” said Al-Zahrani.
He added sports reporting is joining hands to promote ethical reporting and to stand together against unethical and wrongful practices in the field.
Federation member Jabr Al-Shaiqi said establishing the federation is a strong sign of the Kingdom’s dedication and appreciation to sports.
“Saudi sport reporters are nowadays a credible and authentic voice in sports media. Our input is impactful and our sports media is a very positive one,” said Al-Shaiqi.
The event will stream live on the WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view outside the middle east. (Supplied)
In a partnership between Saudi General Authority and WWE, the Crown Jewel will take place at the King Fahd International Stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on Friday Nov. 2.
The Crown Jewel will include a universal championship triple threat match featuring Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Braun Strowman, in addition to the first-ever WWE world cup tournament to determine the best in the world.
Following the Greatest Royal Rumble in April, this is the second event that is part of a long-term partnership between WWE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The event will stream live on the WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view outside the middle east.
JEDDAH: Experts discussed fresh ways to enjoy the economic benefits of the developing sports sector in Saudi Arabia, particularly to benefit the country’s youth, during a workshop organized by Jeddah Chamber of commerce.
The event, Opportunities for Innovation in the Sports Economy, took place this week as part of the activities accompanying the recent Makkah Economic Forum (MEF).
The speakers included Prince Bandar Al-Saud, the founder and chairman of Crescent Technologies Saudi Arabia; Lina Al-Maeena, a pioneer of women’s sports in the Kingdom and a member of the Shoura Council; and Ziad Jarrar, the founder and chief design officer at design company Taurus.
The recent growth of women’s sport in Saudi Arabia, and the important role it will play in the future, is one of the areas that has generated a lot of discussion.
Al-Maeena is a pioneer in the field of women’s sports, and female empowerment, in the Kingdom. She founded Jeddah United, the country’s first private basketball club for women, in 2003, at a time when there was great opposition to such moves.
“There are historical decisions that took place last year concerning the sports sector for women, which is the crux of Vision 2030, such as allowing sport in girls’ schools… and women to enter stadiums,” said Al-Maeena. “These sports projects contribute to strengthening family bonds.”
The workshop discussed a number of problems facing the country’s sports sector, along with possible solutions and ideas to help overcome obstacles emerging projects might face.
A documentary was screened showing projects and opportunities for targeted investments in the sports sector and how this will boost employment opportunities for Saudi youth.
“The leadership of any country must give a strong impetus to society and everyone should be given a sense of permission to practice various sports, where they affect social and family mobility, and in the future the appropriate infrastructure will be available,” said Jarrar.
Prince Bandar said: “The sports sector is accompanied by a lot of services to inspire different investors, such as sport abayas and sport fashion, food trucks and productive families. The people of Saudi Arabia are aware of the importance of these services.”
The sports sector in the Kingdom is undergoing a huge transformation in a very short period of time as attitudes change, and there are opportunities for women that were unthinkable until recently. Women can now visit and work in sports stadiums, can become sports photographers or even repair bicycles. As the country’s population increases, there are big opportunities for the sports sector to grow and develop.
“I have always struggled trying to spread the sport culture in the Kingdom among young men and girls,” said Al-Maeena. “Every year me and my team used to have games with different teams from around the world and our goal was to convey a positive idea about Saudi, Muslim women.”
Prince Bandar added: “Achievements in the market and success come through a good understanding of the shortage in the market and what the customer needs.”
The workshop was hosted by the Continuing Education Center of the University of Business and Technology, a leading training and career-development center for professionals and executives in a variety of business and management fields. It provides international certified training programs for individuals and companies in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East.
In soccer, all roads suddenly lead to Saudi Arabia.
FIFA, the world governing body, is facing three major decisions in the coming weeks and months, and Saudi Arabia, long a bit player among soccer’s ruling classes, is positioning itself as one of the most powerful influencers in each of them.
Foremost is the vote on the 2026 World Cup hosts. There is also a proposal to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams. Finally, FIFA has to decide how to proceed in ongoing negotiations with investors who are offering as much as $25 billion for two new soccer tournaments that could reshape both club and international competition. Saudi Arabia is among the biggest investors in the consortium that has offered the potential windfall to FIFA.
Leaders of the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup, including Carlos Cordeiro, the president of U.S. Soccer president, traveled to Saudi Arabia recently to make a pitch to leaders of a dozen national federations after Saudi Arabia created a new regional bloc — the South West Asian Football Federation. If the group continues with Saudi Arabia at its helm, the Saudis could potentially control more than simply their own vote on the important matters facing FIFA.
Officials from 10 mainly South Asian and Arab countries posed for a picture to announce the formation of the group, which will be based in Jeddah and led by Adel Ezzat, the head of soccer in Saudi Arabia. Its honorary president is Turki al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s top sports official and a close associate of the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Experts say Saudi Arabia’s moves in soccer dovetail with its long-term goals of modernizing its society and economy and becoming less oil dependent. The country has also considered starting a major regional sports network, and Saudi executives have signed long-term deals with wrestling franchise W.W.E. and the Formula E motor racing series.
“It’s a new leadership with profoundly different ideas,” said David B. Roberts, a Gulf expert at King’s College in London.
Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Saudi Arabia this year qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2006. Only once has it played beyond the group stages. Politically, it has largely avoided interfering with how the sport is governed, and it has rarely had a member on FIFA’s top board.
Late last year, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, visited the al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. He met with key Saudi figures, including King Salman and his son, the crown prince. Since then, representatives from the country traveled to FIFA to discuss several ventures, according to officials with knowledge of the meetings.
After deciding to organize the South West Asian Football Federation, Saudi Arabia hosted delegates from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries, who were given watches and told that the country planned to create new regional tournaments and fund soccer development, according to people who attended the event. The gift and the funding pledge may breach ethics regulations, according to a senior official connected to Asian soccer.
The Bangladesh soccer president, Kazi Salahuddin, who attended the meeting, said the Saudi Arabian hosts also took care of all flight and accommodation arrangements. He said his deputy collected the gift that was set aside for him.
“I don’t wear a watch so I had no interest in looking at it,” insisted Salahuddin, who also heads a separate South Asian regional group.
“They said, ‘We want to help each other in football.’ As a president that sounds good to me,” Salahuddin said.
Setting up the new federation without the approval of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation violates existing guidelines. The A.F.C. has given participants in the meeting until May 21 to provide an explanation for their presence there. FIFA declined to comment.
Until the recent developments, Saudi Arabia’s influence in soccer has been largely marginal compared to that of its regional neighbors, notably Qatar. Qatar has spent the past year isolated by much of the region because of a blockade Saudi Arabia set up after it accused Qatar of not doing its part to confront terrorism.
The Gulf state controversially secured rights to the 2022 World Cup amid bribery accusations that the tiny, gas-rich emirate denies. Al-Sheikh, the top Saudi sports official, said recently on his Twitter feed that should Qatar be found to have violated regulations it should be stripped of the tournament, and replaced by England or the U.S.
Saudi Arabia has since emerged as one of the most enthusiastic backers of the North American bid to stage the 2026 World Cup, which would take place mostly in the United States. Morocco, the only challenger, has secured the backing of Qatar. Earlier this week, a second group of North American officials traveled to the Middle East on behalf of the World Cup bid. . Their destination: Saudi Arabia — just days after Cordeiro had visited the country.
“We value Saudi Arabia the same as all the other 207. Every vote counts,” the North American bid said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia backs the proposal to speed up the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams from 32, which is now scheduled for 2026. If that happens, the 2022 event will likely have to expand beyond Qatar to other countries in the region.
The potential deal with FIFA may attract the most attention for Saudi Arabia. If FIFA signs on, it would lead some of the most significant changes in the history of the sport, while also providing Infantino with a major financial trampoline from which to launch his bid for re-election next year. The possibility of FIFA selling out to an investor group has led to stormy meetings between its leadership and key soccer stakeholders.
A gathering of clubs, leagues and players brought together to form UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Committee discussed the issue at length at a meeting in Lyon, France, on Wednesday before issuing a strongly worded statement. They decried the haste with which Infantino is attempting to push through an agreement for a 24-team World Cup for clubs and a league for nations that would be bankrolled by the fund whose identity has been kept secret.
Infantino, citing a nondisclosure agreement, said he was limited in what he can reveal.
Still, the sums of money on offer have turned heads. Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of soccer’s richest clubs, among a group of seven major teams to have received a private pitch from Infantino, have in recent days spoken out in favor of the process. Manchester United’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, appeared to talk up the idea during a conference call with investors on Thursday.
The fund is guaranteeing FIFA $3 billion for each edition of the quadrennial Club World Cup, three times more than FIFA’s best-case valuation.
Lars-Christer Olsson, who heads an organization representing European Leagues, said the lack of information was a problem, as was the potential for a country to buy into soccer for political reasons.
“Sports should stand aside from political systems because otherwise it will not be credible,” said Olsson, a former general secretary of UEFA.
“I’m very critical of any involvement of state subsidies to get a position in sports. I think that’s dangerous for the sport itself.”
As more Saudi women take advantage of the recent loosening of restrictions on their movements by signing up for fitness classes and with running collectives, one little girl is working hard and training hard to turn her dream into a reality.
Aya Shata is only seven years old but already has her mind set on representing the Kingdom at the Olympics when she grows up and winning a few gold medals along the way. Aya, Saudi Arabia’s youngest gymnast, started teaching herself gymnastics at the age of 2 and asked to be enrolled in camps whenever the opportunity presented itself.
According to her mother, Dr. Dania Bogari, Aya has always been determined and enthusiastic about all kinds of sports, from ballet to football to basketball, and she is a girl who “will go to the ends of the earth” to become a world-class gymnast.
“Even when Aya was 2, I noticed that she was different from other children. She was very determined. She was passionate about gymnastics. Other kids were not — they used to cry. I felt like their mothers were pushing them into it. Aya is different, she loves to go and actually asks me to take her to gymnastics,” explained Bogari.
Bogari believes that her daughter’s determination is an inspiration to all, regardless of gender or age. She explained to the news portal that Aya has played football in an all-boys team, fitting in perfectly and performing well, and she also plays with older children.
With regards to nurturing young talent in the Kingdom, Bogari believes that Saudi Arabia should work more on encouraging the country’s youth through well-designed programs, pointing to the success of the United Arab Emirates’ Youth Ambassador Program.
Saudi Arabia has been working over the last few months on encouraging women across the country to take up sports, especially with the key appointment of Princess Reema Bint Bandar as President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, making her the first woman to lead a sports federation in the Kingdom.
In addition, health and fitness personalities such as Amal Baatia – the first female Saudi gymnastics trainer – are working diligently on engaging women to take up fitness activities and adopt healthier lifestyles, as well as motivating them to enter fields that have traditionally been dominated by men.
Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s plan for economic reform spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the expansion of women’s rights and increased female participation in all facets of life has been placed at the forefront of reformation efforts.