KSA eSports: Kingdom to develop first ever Electronic Saudi Professional League

Time: April 30, 2018

One of the hardest journeys in life is going from amateur to elite. It’s difficult to do in several years, let alone in under eight months.

Since October 2017, when The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS) was initiated, the federation has already held two major eSports events and now its president, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation President Adel Ezzat to develop the first Electronic Saudi Professional League (ESPL).

The prince said: “Here in the Kingdom we have great talent, and our duty toward (it) is providing these platforms where the best come to shine. We are also on a mission to grow the eSports economy and industry.

“This is a major step toward positioning the Kingdom as a main eSports hub in the Middle East and the world.

“My message to all the gamers: Today you might be an amateur, but if you work hard and compete you can become an athlete.”

Vowing his support to both the federations, the vice president of the General Sports Authority, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, said: “This is a major leap in sports in the Kingdom and I am proud to see such collaborations between the federations.”

This MoU comes on the final day of the GSA FIFA 18 Tournament, where eight finalists are competing for one of the two seats at the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series qualifier. Abdullah Al-Judi won the Xbox seat to the eWorld Cup qualifiers and Abdulrahman Al-Masri won the PlayStation.

The two champions then battled it out for the Inter-Console Super Cup and a grand prize of $100,000. Al-Masri emerged as the victor.

To follow the details of the GSA FIFA 18 Cup and more tournaments and developments, the SAFEIS Twitter and Instagram accounts (@SAFEISKSA) will be sharing updates, streaming links, stingers and other content. EA is brings competitive FIFA to millions of fans around the world through the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 in August.

 This article was first published Arab News

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Future of sport in Saudi Arabia ‘depends on the public’

April 30, 2018

  • The development of sport in the Kingdom requires a sustainable ecosystem that includes private-sector participation and the support of the population at large: Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal
  • Princess Reema said that the GSA plays an essential role not only encouraging people to have fun in sport but also to improving levels of health and well-being in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The development of sport in the Kingdom requires a sustainable ecosystem that includes private-sector participation and the support of the population at large, said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, deputy chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA).

The prince was speaking during an event at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City on Sunday.

The key discussion on harnessing the power of sports in the Kingdom was held as part of the opening celebration of the Royal Greens club.

In a wide-ranging conversation, moderated by CNN anchor Becky Anderson, panelists including Princess Reema bin Bandar, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports; Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Maritime Sports and Diving Federation; and Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.

They were joined by world champion golfer Ernie Els and European Tour CEO Keith Pelley.

Prince Abdul Aziz praised the leaders of the federations for expanding the role of sport in Saudi Arabia.

Princess Reema said that the GSA plays an essential role not only encouraging people to have fun in sport but also to improving levels of health and well-being in the nation.

She encouraged the private sector to invest not just in new sports facilities but also in training academies, human capital development and other elements of the sporting ecosystem.

The forum also discussed the role of the private sector in developing sport in the Kingdom and agreed that while it has historically played an important role at a professional level, more could be done at a grassroots level to encourage people to take up a sport.

Prince Abdul Aziz said: “Vision 2030 is about catching up. We do not want to be caught out. This is why we have unlimited support from the king and the crown prince to move forward.”

The prince told Arab News: “We are aware of risks in terms of the spending on these federations. We do not recognize it as a loss. In my career in car racing, I raced under Bahrain’s flag. We want to have an umbrella for all sports so they can be played under the Saudi flag.”

Princes Reema said: “It is not only the actual games that we care about; we care about the tools sold, the shops around the playground and all other cultural and economical factors related to them.”

This article was first published in the Arab News

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It is time to help women with special needs get sporty

Time: April 29, 2018

According to the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia, 33 out of every 1,000 Saudis are disabled.

Some 3.8 percent of men are disabled and 2.8 percent of women, with a total of 720, 000 disabled Saudis in 2017. On a larger scale, a UN report on disability and sports states that women with disabilities often experience double discrimination on the basis of their gender and disability. The report points out that 93 percent of women with disabilities are not involved in sports. In Saudi Arabia, the situation is similar, with very few disabled women enjoying the opportunity to participate in sports.

The infrastructure for male Saudi athletes with special needs is already implemented from a grassroots level and we have produced world champions, such as the football team that has won the last three INAS World Championships. I have no doubt the General Sports Authority is dedicating a lot of its time to women as well, but it is not only the GSA’s job — it is a huge social responsibility that families, businesspeople, and private and public organizations should also support.

The difficulty might begin with the family. This is a barrier for those who come from a family that would prefer to hide its daughter or sister with special needs out of shame or shyness. We need people to discuss this further and increase awareness to help these ladies step out and enjoy an opportunity that might change their life. Whether she has a physical or intellectual disability, there is always an option that will suit her.

Therefore, let us focus on the following five issues: First, the role of families in encouraging and providing emotional support; second, finding the right trainers and coaches; third, cooperation between the Ministry of Education, GSA, disability organizations and the private sector to develop venues suitable for females with special needs; fourth, finding sponsors; and fifth, simply making it fun.

There are already a few success stories in the Kingdom that are worth learning from. One example is in Riyadh, where the Barca Foundation and Shell have run a program called Value Net that has helped 200 women with Down syndrome. Another example is in Jeddah, where the Women’s Deaf and Blind Club is working on opening the first bowling lanes for females with special needs.

Believing in the importance of gender and disability equality requires a huge transformation. If we want to create heroes, we first need to create opportunities to attract them. We need to support the disabled emotionally, financially and technically. We need to recognize their efforts and talent to change their perception of themselves and also society’s perception of what the disabled are capable of.

Finally, and as much as Saudi women were happy to hear about being allowed to compete in sports, let’s now hope they get the chance to compete alongside their peers at the Asian Para Games, which will be held in Jakarta in October.

 This article was first published Arab News

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Johnson, Reed, Casey and Bjorn confirmed for inaugural Saudi golf event

Apr 29, 2018

JEDDAH — The Saudi Arabia Golf Federation (SGF) confirmed Saturday that the new European Tour event taking place in the Kingdom from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 2019 will feature Dustin Johnson, the world’s top ranked golfer, and Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters Champion, at the inaugural event.

With the goal to establish the tournament as a leading event on the European Tour schedule and globally, the SGF used the occasion of the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club special opening event this weekend to confirm that joining Johnson and Reed in the field will be World No.15, Paul Casey, and 2018 Ryder Cup Captain, Thomas Bjorn.

 The tournament will take place within King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which is situated along the spectacular Red Sea coastline. The club boasts a premier championship golf course, a state of the art clubhouse, a world-class practice facility and stunning residential and recreational facilities. Aiming to attract many of the best players in the world, there will also be a special focus on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree.

Further details on the event name, prize fund, event partners and other details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation, commented, “This is a very important weekend for us as we mark the opening of our new world-class golf facilities at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club. At the same time, we are very proud to announce that our inaugural Tour event in January 2019 will welcome both the No. 1 player in the world, Dustin Johnson and the champion of the year’s first Major, Patrick Reed. Together with Paul Casey, we already have three of the World’s top 15 players confirmed, along with Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, which is only the start of our player announcements!”

He explained, “We have ambitious plans to accelerate golf development in the Kingdom, with a special focus on juniors and families, and this event will play a key role in our plans. The tournament will provide an important platform for us to showcase Saudi Arabia’s many assets to the world, from our golf courses and facilities, to our rich cultural heritage to our business credentials and our ever developing lifestyle and entertainment offerings.”

World No. 1 Johnson commented, “I am excited to make my first trip to Saudi Arabia and support this historic new event. It sounds like some amazing things are happening there, including big plans for junior and family golf development. It’s an honor to be part of Saudi Arabia’s golf journey from the onset.”

Recently crowned Masters Champion, Reed, added, “It’s been a crazy few weeks since I won at Augusta and so much fun. “I had not, at this stage, finalized anything in my schedule for next year but when I heard about the ambitious plans for golf in Saudi Arabia, I committed straight away.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to have Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjørn in the field for our first professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia.

“Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is a spectacular venue, with world class facilities, and our players are going to absolutely love playing there.

“We are on a global Tour and this is an exciting opportunity for us to play in a new country which has a strong focus on golf as part of its vision for the future. Our thanks go to Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for this vision, and to the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation and everyone at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club and the King Abdullah Economic City for their commitment to this inaugural tournament.”

The Tournament will be managed by IMG, a global leader in sports, events and media, on behalf of the Saudi Golf Federation. — SG

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

Saudi girl Mawiya Zahid, 9, wins silver at Jiu-Jitsu Festival in Abu Dhabi

April 28, 2018

  • Zahid competed in the 36 kilograms division
  • I was excited and scared at the same time: Zahid

JEDDAH: Nine-year-old Saudi Mawiya Zahid competed in the 36 kilograms division of the white/grey belt category and won silver, making her the first Saudi to compete in this category, let alone nab second place.

The nine-year-old overpowered on the mat and showed her skills. Mawiya took up taekwondo and jiu-jitsu and excelled while training at the Legendary Heroes Martial Arts Academy in Jeddah.

After winning silver, Mawiya admitted: “I was excited and scared at the same time, but I wanted to compete and I want to see how far I can go. I want to learn more and go to other places and compete as well.”

Coach Mohammed Abbas of Legendary Heroes Martial Arts Academy in Jeddah saw that young Mawiya was  a very determined and disciplined child, which prompted him to have her compete in several competitions.

 

“When competing with boys at the academy, you can see how professional she is. She’s a fast learner too and I believe that she fought very well in the Abu Dhabi championship.

“I bet that she would’ve won gold if there was more time given. We’re moving her to the next level in training where she can learn how to pick up points, which will be easy since she’s a focused child.

“She has what it takes to continue in her training for jiu-jitsu and taekwondo. With the support that she has from her parents, she can go a long way,” said coach Mohammed Abbas.

“My daughter has always been the sensitive type, but very much into wanting to prove herself and defend herself. She’s never been the trouble maker, instead she looks for other means to get out of problems,” said Lina Qummossani, Mawiya’s mother, who works as a photographer.

No one in Mawiya’s family pursued the sport, but she became interested from watching bouts on television.

Lina added: “She was always looking for a sport that would suit her and she was smart enough to pick taekwondo and jiu-jitsu. She’s typically a very punctual child, and has a lot of self-discipline, she fits right in.”

After she took part in local school competitions, winning first place three times in a row, her coaches spoke to her parents to alert them to her talent.

She preferred jiu-jitsu to other sports, and began competing with boys her same age, growing in confidence as she did so.

She took to teasing the boys and was always trying to coax them to fight her, as she found that the boys were more disciplined than the girls in class.

According to her mother, she always wanted to prove herself between her challenges. She was so enthusiastic that her coaches suggested to her parents that she should try her chances at the championship, something her parents approved of wholeheartedly.

“I’m proud to say that she was the only girl among 13 boys that went with the academy to the UAE where she competed in the 36kg division of the white/grey belt category. She won second place, but in all fairness, it was her first international competition and an amazing accomplishment at that,” said Lina.

Her participation is all the more remarkable in a sport in which males dominate, particularly in Saudi Arabia. But attitudes to martial art sports are changing in the Kingdom, with more young females than ever. Anecdotal reports from coaches show Saudi girls are showing growing interest in martial arts sports, a clear sign of public acceptance.

As for Mawiya’s parents, so delighted are they with their daughter’s achievement, that they are signing her up for more international competitions.

This article was first published in the Arab News

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FaceOf: Prince Abdul Aziz Turki Al-Faisal, Vice chairman to the board in the KSA’s General Sports Authority

April 28, 2018

  • At an early age, he decided to pursue motorsports
  • His ultimate goal is to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Prince Abdul Aziz Turki Al-Faisal, the current vice chairman to the board in the General Sports Authority, was born in Riyadh in 1983.

He studied politics at King Saud University from 2001 to 2003 then went on to take a politics degree at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

He also studied marketing at the College of Business Administration (CBA), Jeddah, from 2006 until he graduated in 2010.

Additionally, he graduated from the Formula BMW School in Bahrain in 2005.

He spent most of his childhood in Europe, where he pursued an active lifestyle and was introduced to motorsports. At an early age, he decided to pursue motorsports.

In 2009, he took part in the 24-hour race for the Toyo Tires Cup in Dubai, his team came second while he raced to first place in the A5 category.

He also competed in the Porsche GT3 European Super Cup Series.

Between 2009 and 2010, he raced in the Middle East Porsche Cup Championship, finishing first and earning the championship title.

In 2011, he took on a challenge to prove himself outside the Middle East, winning the first race in the FIA GT3 in Portugal.

By 2012, Prince Abdul Aziz had won the Porsche GT3 Championship for the second time and competed in the Dunlop 24-hour race in Dubai, finishing fourth.

He is known as the first Saudi to participate in a GT3 European championship race and win. He solely won 23 races by 2013, paving the way for Saudis to enter more competitions.

In 2015, he won in Dubai, kick-starting a string of top-10 finishes in the racing season. His ultimate goal is to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This article was first published in the Arab News

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First-ever WWE Greatest Royal Rumble wows 60,000 in Jeddah

 
Time: April 28, 2018

JEDDAH: The first televised World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) event in the region was a huge success, with 60,000 delighted fans cheering their heroes at the King Abdullah Stadium on Friday night.

In another landmark moment for Saudi Arabia, women were free to attend and enjoy the show.

WWE pulled all the stops to ensure the success of its Greatest Royal Rumble, with all seven men’s titles on the line.

WWE legends The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Mark Henry were part of the loaded roster.

This was the first WWE event with a 50-man “Royal Rumble” match, rather than the traditional 30.

Four Saudi tryout WWE candidates also made an appearance, receiving a deafening reaction from the crowd as they took on Persian duo the Daivari brothers.

In the first bout of the night, John Cena defeated Triple H. Cedric Alexander then retained his cruiserweight title against Lucha sensation Kalisto, while Jeff Hardy held on to his US championship title against modern-day maharaja Jinder Mahal.

In the fatal four-way intercontinental championship ladder match, Seth Rollins came out on top against Samoa Joe, The Miz and Finn Balor.

Meanwhile, A.J. styles defended his WWE championship title against Shinsuke Nakamura, while the legendary Undertaker defeated Rusev in the Kingdom’s first casket match.

The battle between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the universal championship proved to be too much for the steel cage that was supposed to contain them, with Lesnar ending up the winner after the pair destroyed part of the structure.

The final match was the 50-man Royal Rumble match, which was down to Big Cass and Braun Strowman. Braun ran into Cass and knocked him to the floor to win the Greatest Royal Rumble match.

This article was first published Arab News

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World No. 1 Dustin Johnson joins the field for inaugural Saudi Arabia tournament

April 28, 2018

RIYADH: The European Tour’s newest tournament, taking place in Saudi Arabia, has signalled its intent to become the biggest golf tournament in the Middle East by announcing that Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed will tee it up at the inaugural event next year.
The region has long been known as a global powerhouse with the Dubai Desert Classic and Abu Dhabi Golf Championship having hosted some of golf’s biggest names for more than a decade. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are regular visitors to the Middle East during the Desert Swing leg of the tour.
Last month the European Tour announced Saudi Arabia would be joining the fray with a new tournament set to take place from January 31 to February 3.
Details were scant, bar the dates and the course chosen to host the event. But now with confirmation that two of the world’s best players will be gracing the fairways of King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club it is clear that the new event will be one of the major events of next year’s golfing calendar.
And that is something that world No.1 Johnson wants to be part of.
“I am excited to make my first trip to Saudi Arabia and support this historic new event. It sounds like some amazing things are happening there, including big plans for junior and family golf development. It’s an honor to be part of Saudi Arabia’s golf journey from the onset,” he said.
Recently crowned Masters Champion, Patrick Reed, added: “It’s been a crazy few weeks since I won at Augusta and so much fun. “I had not, at this stage, finalized anything in my schedule for next year but when I heard about the ambitious plans for golf in Saudi Arabia, I committed straight away.”
That the tournament has managed to lure Johnson and new Masters champion Reed is a proper statement of intent.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to have Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjørn in the field for our first professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia.
“Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is a spectacular venue, with world class facilities, and our players are going to absolutely love playing there.
“We are a global Tour and this is an exciting opportunity for us to play in a new country which has a strong focus on golf as part of its vision for the future. Our thanks go to Mohammad bin Salman for this vision, and to the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation and everyone at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club and the King Abdullah Economic City for their commitment to this inaugural tournament.”
Johnson and Reed are two of the biggest names in golf at the moment, Johnson has been world No. 1 for more than a year now, and when on form can be untouchable — long off the tee and with a short game that does not get the credit it deserves. Reed won impressively at Augusta earlier this month and, while he divides opinion, it was a Major victory that did not come out of the blue and should serve as a springboard to more success.
Also joining Johnson and Reed will be world No.15 Paul Casey and 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation commented: “This is a very important weekend for us as we mark the opening of our new world-class golf facilities at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
“At the same time, we are very proud to announce that our inaugural Tour event in January 2019 will welcome both the number one player in the world, Dustin Johnson and the champion of the year’s first Major, Patrick Reed.
“Together with Paul Casey, we already have three of the World’s top 15 players confirmed, along with Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn, which is only the start of our player announcements.”
Royal Greens boasts a premier championship golf course, a state of the art clubhouse, a world-class practice facility and stunning residential and recreational facilities. Aiming to attract many of the best players in the world, there will also be a special focus on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree.
Further details on the event name, prize fund, event partners and other details will be announced in the coming weeks.

This article was first published in the Arab News

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eSports players come to Saudi for dreams of global glory

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 24, 2018

JEDDAH: Sixty-four competitors are fighting for their world cup dream in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) at GSA FIFA 18 Cup World, organized by the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports.
Competitors came from different regions of the Gulf countries to compete for the chance of winning one seat in the world cup in FIFA 18 PS4.
Six thousand citizens and residents of the GCC countries participated in the preliminary qualifiers last March and only 64 finalists have qualified to compete over a total prize of SR1 million ($266,667) divided among the top three PS4 players and top three Xbox players along with the chance of playing in the world cup for the winner of each game.
Saudi Arabia has become the place for eSports players in the GCC region to accomplish their global glory dreams. The industry is thriving and promising, and besides its passion, it creates viable business models and creates jobs that could benefit society and players too. The president of the federation, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, said: “This event is a platform for the player to shine, it creates jobs for the community, and it shows them that if they work hard there are no limits to what they can accomplish.”

 This article was first published Arab News

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WWE superstar Mojo Rawley leads training session in Jeddah gym

Apr 24, 2018 

  • Mojo Rawley put new friends in Saudi Arabia to the test at a Jeddah gym
  • The Greatest Royal Rumble will see 50 WWE athletes compete for glory this Friday

JEDDAH: As personal trainers go, there can be few taskmasters tougher than WWE’s Mojo Rawley as he put new friends in Saudi Arabia to the test.
As time ticks down to WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble at the King Abdullah Stadium, Mojo Rawley joined locals at a Jeddah gym for the hardest workout of their lives.
The Greatest Royal Rumble will see 50 WWE athletes compete for glory this Friday, but before the event explodes into action, its superstars have been getting out to see Saudi Arabia for themselves.
At one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest gyms, Arena, Mojo led a one-hour training session of intense workouts that had both trainers and trainees gasping for air.
“The reason I can go longer than anyone else in the ring is because I stay here longer than everyone else,” said Mojo as the session participants did their 10th set of drills.

Mojo Rawley who is known for his hype and stamina counts on his ability to outlast most fighters in the ring said: “Running is important, but more so for movers. Sparring is probably the best cardio, but strength training is the best way to prevent the kind of injuries that come from roadwork and sparring. Running helps but if a guy is a lot stronger than you in the clinches it will wear on you and sap your stamina.
“So, I wouldn’t throw out the strength work, even if it’s just pullups and dips. And core and neck strength is super important.”
Mojo said he was surprised by the training session, with some of the participants almost outlasting him.
“Almost is not enough, you have to be able to outlast your opponent in the ring,” said Mojo.
At the gym the athlete put himself through the paces with a wide range of drills sets. From dumbbells to ellipticals to jump rope was no less tough on himself.
Some of the people participating in this event were local TV host Loai Al-Shareef and local food critique Faris Al-Turki.
The Greatest Royal Rumble marks the start of a 10-year partnership between WWE and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia.
Samoa Joe will compete in an Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match against Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor and The Miz in one of an incredible seven Championship matches at the Greatest Royal Rumble event.
WWE fans will also see John Cena vs Triple H, The Undertaker vs. Rusev and Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Universal Championship match.
Tickets are available online at WWE.SA, and are also from retail locations including the General Sports Authority offices in Riyadh and Damman, Red Sea Mall, Mall of Arabia and Al Andalus Mall. Tickets will also be on-sale at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium beginning Wednesday, April 25.

This article was first published in theArab News