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

Italy to face Saudi Arabia in friendly next month

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 20, 2018

ROME: Italy will play World Cup qualifiers Saudi Arabia in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
While four-time champions Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades, Saudi Arabia will play in the tournament for the first time since 2006.
Saudi Arabia will face host Russia in the opening match of the World Cup on June 14.
The friendly at Kybunpark Stadium will mark the first time Italy face Saudi Arabia.
Italy then play France in Nice on June 1, and hosts the Netherlands in Turin three days later.

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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 19, 2018

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 

AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 

AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.

AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 

AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.

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Saudi girls aim — and kick — high

SOURCE: Arab News

April 17, 2018

  • Al-Agha says the number of girls wanting to learn Taekwondo is increasing
  • Al-Agha believes men and women in Saudi society have become much more respectful of any female who has struggled to learn the skills of a sport

JEDDAH: Saudi girls have started taking martial arts seriously. Some of them have even received international recognition by winning gold in various competitions.
This is a bad news for those who have long enjoyed harassing women in the streets or malls, as they may be about to receive a lesson that they will never forget.
Amira Al-Agha, 20, is one of a new generation of women taking up the sport.
Al-Agha told Arab News that she started learning martial arts five years ago when she was 15. “I was just trying it with an international coach who decided to establish the first Saudi Taekwondo team,” she said.
She said that her family expected her interest to last no longer than two months. However, she said: “I continued training until the Saudi Arabian Taekwondo Federation crowned my efforts with a black belt, along with other five girls. We took an oath to observe the tenets of Taekwondo and to not misuse it.”
According to Al-Agha, they were the first group of Saudi women to become holders of black belt.
Her family gave her the green light to attend training sessions, but when she told them that she had been chosen to represent the Kingdom in a competition in Jordan she faced resistance.
“This was something uncommon in my society. Nonetheless, my family hesitatingly agreed. They accompanied me on my trip to Jordan,” she said.
After that competition, where Al-Agha won a gold medal, things changed as the Al-Agha’s realized that a member of the family might one day be an Olympic athlete. They started to unreservedly encourage their daughter and told her that she could freely go anywhere to represent her country.
Al-Agha told Arab News that she gained self-confidence through the sport. She said that, unlike before, she could stand before any gathering and talk in a self-assured way.
“Taekwondo is not an aggressive sport, as many people think, but rather a sport that fills you with confidence. I can now go out without being afraid that I might find myself in a difficult situation. Now I know what to do.” She said that sport, in general, teaches patience, self-control and how to quickly and effectively think or respond to situations.
“I was an eyewitness to a traffic accident one day. Although other people handled everything, I felt like I could composedly interfere and help. I did not have that feeling before Taekwondo; I would just oversee from a distance.”
Al-Agha said the number of girls wanting to learn Taekwondo is increasing. “There are now many girls who want to acquire self-defense skills. Some of my university friends are willing to receive training,” she said. When she first started five years ago there were at the most 10 girls learning martial arts. “Now there are more than 30 who are attending private training sessions,” she said.
Al-Agha said that she is now doing training courses to get enough coaching experience to set up her own Taekwondo training center. However, it will not take her away from her studies — she is a biology junior student at King Abdul Aziz University — Taekwondo will remain a hobby.
“Education is my top priority, then comes my hobby. After graduation, I may work in a hospital or laboratory, for instance, and I will continue to be a Taekwondo enthusiast,” she said.
Al-Agha believes men and women in Saudi society have become much more respectful of any female who has struggled to learn the skills of a sport, and says that she is determined to achieve all her goals.
“Practicing sports never degrade a woman. It gives her respect and support. The General Sports Authority — the highest sports governing body in Saudi Arabia — is doing its best to support us,” she said.
She advised her female compatriots to learn Taekwondo, or any other martial art so that they can defend themselves when they need to.

WWE star Samoa Joe getting ready to rumble in Saudi Arabia

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 17, 2018

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: While inside the WWE ring Samoa Joe, also known as The Destroyer, prefers to let his wrestling do the talking. Outside it he has plenty to say about the upcoming “Greatest Royal Rumble” in Saudi Arabia.

“I’m beyond excited. First and foremost, we get to go and experience new cultures, see them first-hand and up close and coming to Saudi Arabia is a big opportunity for me. I’m very interested to be there, to meet the fans and to see how strong the WWE Universe is there,” said the 127.9kg athlete.

The event 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. Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a Steel Cage Universal Championship match.

For Samoa Joe the signature event, featuring 50 WWE stars battling it out at the King Abdullah Stadium, it will be a chance to get back to competing after sitting on the sidelines with an injury.

“I’m dying to get back in the ring as I’ve been nursing an injury, so to be in Saudi Arabia and to be able to get all of those months of frustration out, well I’ll definitely be ready to go. It’s a return to the ring for me and it’s a debut for me in a new culture, so that’s two factors that mean I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Speaking of the April 25 event, he added: “It’s incredible, you get this rare opportunity to introduce them to the live experience because that is so much different to the television screen. The energy that’s in the building, the atmosphere, to be there and feel the excitement of the crowd and to see what we do live in person is a very different experience, and it’s one that everyone will enjoy.”

Describing the event as a “fantastic night out,” with “some of the most amazing athletes,” he said there was “no better show in the world,” where people can cheer their favorites and boo those that are not.

While Samoa Joe has competed in Abu Dhabi three times, this will be his first visit to the Kingdom.

“In the US I’ve had the opportunity to grow up around a lot of Arab families and the one thing that always stood out to me is the incredible hospitality, it’s out of this world.

“Anytime I’ve travelled to the Middle East I’ve always experience the very best in hospitality, they are some of the most kind and wonderful people I’ve had the chance to meet and I feel that Saudi Arabia shares those same qualities. I can’t wait to learn and experience things for the first time.

“No matter what your background or where you are from, the one thing we can all respect is when great athletes and great passion leads to great achievements. I think that sport is universally respected around the world.”

Asked what one memory he hoped fans would take away from the show, Samoa Joe said: “For the fans in Saudi Arabia I hope the biggest memory for them is I hope they understand how powerful what we do is, how important it is to bring people together.

“It allows people to take a little bit of a break from the world and just share the joy and be entertained. And I want them not only to have seen us but to recognize they lived a piece of history.”

On the global audience looking into Saudi Arabia for the first time, the WWE star said he agreed with the idea that ‘sport is for all’, an ethos adopted by the General Sports Authority as it works to improve sporting access across the Kingdom.

“I think it’s absolutely necessary that we, the people in the West, do see that the everyday lives of people in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “To see a Saudi family enjoying a night out and being able to see that no matter how much culturally different we might be we are still the same.

“I think it sends a powerful message. It puts a face on people, its puts a face on the region, and it’s a very different face than perhaps the one we are used to seeing through traditional media outlets.

“If we can help a fan in the West look over and say ‘wow, they are not much different from us, they enjoy wrestling as much as we do,’ I think we’ve done a service. It’s my greatest hope that comes out of these efforts.”

Samoa Joe, who will be looking for glory in the ladder match as he climbs for the Intercontinental Championship in Jeddah, said Saudi Arabia was now a serious player in the WWE world.

“This will be what we call a ‘tentpole’ event,” he said. “We talk about grand opportunities to make a statement, I think winning the Greatest Royal Rumble in the history of the Royal Rumbles in Saudi Arabia is probably one of the greatest statements you can make.

“In your career to walk away champion of the Greatest Royal Rumble would be something people will take with them for a lifetime.

“I’m very much looking forward to becoming the Greatest Royal Rumble champion.”

Tickets are available online at WWE.SA, and are also on sale at various retail outlets including the General Sports Authority offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman, Red Sea Mall, Mall of Arabia, Alsalam Mall, and a special WWE/GSA outdoor booth at Jeddah Corniche. Tickets will also be on-sale at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium beginning Wednesday, April 25.

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WWE’s Samoa Joe declares entry into Saudi’s Greatest Royal Rumble, talks return

SOURCE: Al Arabiya English

Time: April 04, 2018

For as long as Samoe Joe has been in the business, for as long as he’s been considered one of the best pro wrestlers in the world, he’s been underestimated. The thing about Joe is he doesn’t mind. Few thought he would come to the WWE. Then in 2015, he debuted in its developmental brand NXT. Few thought he would make it to the top. Then, through his championship reign, he helped elevate the NXT to a powerful touring brand in its own right. Even WWE didn’t think he would make it to the main roster on the company’s flagship program WWE Raw, according to Joe, but he knew he would, and so he did.

Since debuting, he’s established himself as one of the top talents on the brand, performing with a ferocious intensity, focus and controlled brutality that has produced some genuinely unsettling moments, leading to matches imbued with combat sport legitimacy.

In early 2018, he was injured, delaying his chase for the WWE Universal championship. While it’s been reported he’s near ready, even staying backstage at television tapings, he has yet to reappear, though he’s promised me he will compete in the upcoming Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on April 27, entering the first-ever 50-man rumble.

Read our full conversation below:

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah?

I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s a very unique set of circumstances as far as the rumble goes, and I’m looking forward to competing in it and winning it, that’s quite a feather in your cap that you won the greatest royal rumble of all time.

Daniel Bryan told me recently he thinks it could end up being more important than WrestleMania. Do you agree with that sentiment?

Yes I do. The fan base is expanding on much more of a global scale, and I think WWE recognizes that we have fans all over the world and we’re adjusting our schedules to accommodate that so we can tour and go out there and see those fans, no matter where they may be. I think the Middle East is a key market for anybody. There’s people there that want to see great entertainment, have a great time. When you come to a WWE event, you see that enough spectacle and you get that type of entertainment. I think it’s very key and very important to the growth of WWE as a whole. I look forward to seeing how the WWE Universe of Saudi Arabia reacts.

Will you take time to explore Jeddah, or is your trip strictly business?

I’m looking forward to experiencing Saudi Arabia. One of the great perks of my job in traveling so much is that I’ve had the opportunity to experience and be around a lot of cultures up close and personally and experience them for myself. I look forward to going to Saudi Arabia because it’s an opportunity that not many people get here in the States. I very much look forward to coming over, seeing what Saudi Arabia is like, meeting the people, walking the streets, experiencing the culture and understanding it more.

You wrote an impassioned note after your friend Daniel Bryan was forced to retire in February 2016. What are your thoughts now that he has worked to get back and has been cleared to wrestle in a WWE ring again?

Obviously whenever you speak of people that you consider friends throughout your career, you always look upon that news with a little bit of trepidation, only because I care about Daniel Bryan’s well-being as a person. I would hate to see anything permanently bad happen to him. At the same time, I know he’s been fighting the fight really hard the past few years, and do everything within his power to medically prove that he’s capable and fit to compete in the ring. Knowing Bryan as long as I’ve known him, if he’s attacked that with the same ferocity that he’s attacked his abilities as a professional wrestler, I have no doubt that he’s ready to get back in that ring and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s able to do.

Have you spoken to him about it?

No, not yet. I’m sure we’ll speak about it at some point soon.

How has your recovery from injury gone?

It’s been good. To be honest, I think this was more of a culmination of old nagging things that I never really took care of before. I just didn’t have time. Injuries occur, it’s an unfortunate side effect of the business. It’s not my first one, and sure won’t be my last, but back up and running, feeling pretty good, and we’ll see what the future holds here.

Have you been champing at the bit to get back in the ring watching from the locker room?

As anybody knows me, it’s always hard whenever I’m not in the game, I think is the best way to put it. People know that I don’t like it and I’m not the most fun person to be around during those times, but also at this point I understand how important it is to be ready to go and be 100% healthy. I feel pretty good. Doctors seem pretty positive about everything. Maybe I’m just waiting to unleash at a certain time, we’ll see.

What’s on your agenda once you come back?

Obviously I’ll always have my eyes on the Universal championship. It’s something that’s eluded me just barely, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I should be in there beating up Brock Lesnar not Roman. Obviously Roman has been through his trials and tribulations and he’s made a case for being in there, but it’s always hard sitting on the sidelines when you should be in there hitting home runs. We’ll see what transpires.

What are your thoughts on Brock Lesnar potentially leaving WWE?

For however I feel about Brock, I’ll never doubt his business acumen as a combat athlete, and Brock and Paul are very intelligent individuals so whatever they’re future holds I’m sure they planned it out, but it’d be a shame for him to leave before I beat him up.

Would you consider tag team wrestling, if, say, someone like Braun Strowman needed a partner?

Braun out here talking about how he doesn’t get along well with other people, but I’m terrible at it. That sounds like something that’s very enticing to the fans, but I’m sure two minutes in I’d be punching him in the head.

You had huge success in NXT. Who do you want to see come up from NXT to Raw next?

There’s so many talented individuals down there. Top of the list, obviously the champ [Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas]. He’s a bad dude. He’s proven time and time again that he’s ready to go. If ‘Cien’ wants to bring that 100 up here, I wouldn’t be surprised. Aleister Black I don’t think is any surprise to anybody, he’s a tremendously, unlimitedly talented athlete and I would expect that eyes would be on him sooner rather than later. Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, two tremendous athletes that really caught my eye. I like their style and I like what they’re doing out there. Heavy Machinery and the Authors of Pain, two massive, mean tag teams. They could do a lot in this tag team division. We’ve got guys like the Bludgeon Brothers, the New Day, and the Usos, who are incredible. We’ve got these really great tag teams and these hungry young wrecking crews waiting to come up. I think next year is going to be a very good year for tag team wrestling.

A lot of wrestlers I talk to don’t have a chance to watch much wrestling because of the demands of the schedule. In your time off, have you had a chance to watch anything, and what has caught your eye?

It’s funny. I think I watch things now and keep up with things, but I watch more non current things than current things. Random guys will get a call from me about a match they had three months ago, like ‘hey man, that thing you did was pretty good.’ They’ll be like ‘wow that was forever ago’. I’ll be like ‘I just got around to watching it now.’ I do watch a lot of wrestling, but it’s totally out of date. I’d be like man, Les Kellett, you’ve got amazing interviews! [Laughs] It’s all over the place.

Roman and Samoa Joe (R) battle during the WWE show at Zenith Arena on may 09, 2017 in Lille, France. (AFP)

Let me put it this way, I’m up to date with what’s going on but I don’t get to watch the matches either months later when by happenstance either a YouTube clip or a CD comes across my way that might have the match on it.

You had huge success against Brock Lesnar last year. What was your ethos behind that feud?

When it comes to my approach to how I handle a feud, I try to make it very visceral, very real, and I try to get in their face, and make people uncomfortable. That’s what I do. I’m not going to sit back and trade a bunch of dialogue with you. If I do, it’s going to be very poignant, and very snappy dialogue. That’s basically it. I just try to do my best to make the tension feel a bit amped up any time I’m in the ring.

What’s your relationship with Vince McMahon like?

I’m terrible at small talk, so me and Vince’s relationship is—I don’t want to say dispassionate, but when we have talks, they’re very brief, short, we lay out a few things and I go from there. It’s not a lot of, ‘hey how are you doin’, how’s this, how’s that’. It’s calling the play, what do we need to get done, and I go out and get it done.

Do you get as much satisfaction out of wrestling as you did at the start of your career?

In some aspects more so than it did when I started my career. When you start your career, you have a very limited view of accomplishment and what satiates you and what makes you satisfied. When I started out, it was just hearing maybe five people in the crowd maybe dug what I did, and I felt good. Now, being able to come in here, make an impact in the main event scene, that means a lot to me. It’s a more business-minded aspect to where I know that I’m contributing to this company, that I’m making it stronger and making it better. That started down in NXT. My goal in NXT was to help build it from developmental to an international touring brand, and we accomplished that.

Now that I’m here in the WWE, I want to drive people to the matches like the 2017 SummerSlam main event, I want to make this must-see TV. these are the greater heights that you find satisfaction in. If you leave your expectations and your satisfaction with what you started in your wrestling career, you will become miserable because you’ll become numb to it. You have to adjust your goals according to your career path. That’s something that I’ve been able to do, so it’s kept me interested in what I’m doing.

What is your approach to the producing weekly TV? How have you adjusted to the WWE style of storytelling?

When I’m brought here, you’re almost presented with a puzzle in some senses, where it’s like, we need to get these things across, and this is the framework in which we have to do it. A lot of people would be like, from an artistic standpoint, oh I can’t work under these conditions! I’ve always been under the school of thought that the great artists will find a way to make it work whatever the conditions. It’s definitely a mindset-based approach as opposed to, ‘I should be free and do whatever I want! If I want to pain on the walls I’ll pain on the walls!’ No, you provide me a canvas and I’ll do my best to make a masterpiece. That’s how I’ve approached this, and a lot of my guys in my position have varying thoughts on it, and I don’t knock them for their thoughts. What we do is art in a form, and so how you choose to express it is how you choose to express it. But if you can do it with restrictions on you and still make something fantastic, I think that’s something special too.

Have you passed on wisdom to any of the younger talent?

To those who have asked. I’m not big on preaching to an unwilling mass. Several guys have, and I feel it is a great honor, when guys have come to bounce ideas off of me, throwing around technique ideas, and I’ve always been more than willing to offer an opinion, but I’ll always preface it by saying, I’m not saying this is the right way, but this is one way. There’s 22 million ways to skin a cat, and so whoever does it the prettiest that makes it work out. If you like the things that I offer up, cool. If you don’t, that’s fine also.

What is your main goal overall in WWE?

I think my biggest thing overall is leaving lasting memories with fans. Years from now, they can look back on fondly, and say, remember that moment? It was huge! Or it made me feel a certain way, or was polarizing in a certain fashion. That’s the thing that I’m most looking forward to doing.

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Cricket is the second most popular sport in Saudi Arabia

Source Wikipedia

Date: 30.03.2018

Cricket

Cricket is the second most popular sport in Saudi Arabia, largely due to the increasing number of South Asian expatriates who play the game during their spare time. However during recent years cricket has generated interest among many Arab locals, such as Faique Habib and Nadim Al Nadwi, who have both represented Saudi Arabia at national level. Currently there are over 8000 Saudi cricketers, with nearly 20 percent being local Arabs, and the majority of the rest coming from countries such as PakistanIndia and Sri Lanka.

There are many cricket associations Saudi Arabia, with Yanbu Al Sinaiyah Cricket Association being the largest. Each major city has its own organisation which holds its own domestic cup for each format.

Since 2010 Saudi Arabia has gained quite a lot of fame for its style of cricket, as it has won several regional tournaments on turf, even though back home players only play on concrete. Saudi Arabia’s biggest win to date was in September 2016, where they beat a Namibian national side by 141 runs. 2 months later they also won their first major series which came in the form of a quadrangular series also involving KenyaUganda and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia’s greatest cricketer is Shoaib Ali, who has contributed to major victories both home and away, and who has captained the nation since 2008. He is a bowling all rounder who made his debut against Thailand in the 2008 ACC Under-19 Challenge Cup.

Sports in Saudi Arabia

SOURCE: Saudi Embassy

Mar 30, 2018

Water Sports

Some of the world’s most beautiful living coral reefs are located beneath both the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

A paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers, these coastal areas offer endless hours of underwater exploration.

Wind surfing, sailing and water skiing are also popular pastimes in the Gulf and Red Sea waters along the Saudi coast.

Also, some of the world’s best deep-sea fishing can be found in the Red Sea. The Coastal Sports Cities in Jeddah and Al-Khobar and other clubs offer opportunities for a variety of water sports and recreational activities.

Both traditional and modern sports are popular in Saudi Arabia. The people of the Arabian Peninsula have enjoyed sports for thousands of years, including horse and camel racing, falconry and hunting with hounds. Today, modern sports are also popular – especially soccer.

A special effort has been made to encourage sports and make them accessible to the public. Hundreds of facilities have been established throughout the Kingdom so that all Saudis can exercise regularly or enjoy popular spectator sports.

In addition, all levels of the Saudi educational system – from kindergarten through university – emphasize the importance of sports.

Modern sports

Soccer is by far the most popular modern sport in Saudi Arabia. Saudis of all ages have taken the game to heart, from children scrimmaging on playgrounds to international matches battled out in spectacular modern stadiums.

There is a professional Saudi soccer league that is wildly popular among Saudis – friends and families often gather to cheer on their favorite teams, both on television and in stadiums. The highlight of the Saudi soccer league is its championship tournament known as the King’s Cup. Fans also avidly follow the Saudi Arabian national soccer team in World Cup competition.

In addition to soccer, other organized sports have gained a following among Saudis, including volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and basketball.

Saudi Arabia has a number of first-class golf courses. American expatriates introduced golf to Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s when they created a course in the sand near Dhahran. They mixed oil with the sand to keep the course from blowing away, a method that is still used in the Kingdom. Today, there are lush, green courses in that look like they belong in the tropics.

Sports facilities

The Kingdom has a number of different types of sports facilities, ranging from major sports complexes to neighborhood facilities and clubs.

The huge sports complexes, called Sports Cities, are located in large population centers. Each complex has a stadium that can seat between 10,000 and 60,000 people, an indoor stadium seating 5,000, Olympic-size swimming pools, indoor and outdoor courts, playgrounds, conference halls, and sports medicine clinics.

Smaller than the Sports Cities, neighborhood sports facilities and playgrounds were built in large urban areas so that young Saudis can play sports like basketball and volleyball near their homes. These centers offer parks, open spaces, and facilities for indoor activities.

Local sports clubs are located in all cities and towns. They offer a range of facilities for different sports, including soccer fields, indoor and outdoor courts, swimming pools, playgrounds, recreational areas and accommodations for youth camps. These clubs organize local events throughout the year.

Development of Sports

The introduction of a national education system in the 1950s was the first step in the development of modern sports in Saudi Arabia. An integral part of the education system, sports spread throughout the country as new schools were built in large cities and small towns alike.

The development of sports acquired momentum with the introduction of the First Development Plan (1970-74). At the time, a decision was made to establish a nationwide network of sports facilities that could be enjoyed and used by all. The plan called for the construction of sports and athletic facilities, the establishment of recreational programs and the creation of clubs for the Kingdom’s youth.

A further step in encouraging public participation in sporting activities was taken in 1974 with the establishment of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (GPYW). Its mandate is to make sporting, recreational and cultural facilities and events accessible to young Saudis throughout the country and to get as many people interested and involved in these activities as possible.

The presidency’s activities complement those of the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for maintaining physical education programs within the school system, and the Ministry of Higher Education, which oversees sports programs at Saudi Arabia’s universities and colleges. Today, schools, colleges and universities emphasize sports as an integral part of their curriculum.

Outside the country’s educational system, the GPYW is the primary provider of sports facilities and programs. With almost unlimited moral and material support from Saudi leaders, the GPYW has put into place a formidable sports structure and program that covers the entire country. Based on studies on population density and needs in various parts of the Kingdom, the GPYW initiated a three-tier program.

The first provides for the establishment of huge sports complexes — called Sports Cities — in major population centers. These gigantic facilities are scattered throughout Saudi Arabia, and more are being built. Each has a multipurpose stadium with a seating capacity of between 10,000 and 60,000, a 5,000-seat indoor stadium, Olympic-size swimming pools, indoor and outdoor courts and playgrounds, cafeterias, halls for conferences and clinics for sports medicine.

The second tier of the GPYW’s sports program concentrates on establishing smaller neighborhood sports facilities and playgrounds in large urban centers where young Saudis can play basketball, volleyball and other sports near their homes. In addition to parks and open spaces, these centers also have buildings where indoor recreational activities can be arranged.

The third tier focuses on making sports facilities available in smaller population centers by establishing Sports Clubs in all cities and towns. Although not as large as the Sports Cities, these clubs meet the needs of residents of towns and villages. Differing in size according to the number of residents of the town, the clubs offer a range of facilities for different sports, including soccer fields, indoor and outdoor courts, swimming pools, playgrounds, recreational areas and accommodations for youth camps.

Sports training programs in a diverse range of fields from archery to soccer are available to Saudis of every age at the country’s sports facilities, large and small. Though open to all, they are intended to introduce young Saudis to various sporting activities and offer training at different levels. In addition to building sports facilities, the GPYW has also introduced programs to encourage their use by the general public. To achieve that objective, it has introduced a program of annual events on the local and national levels at all its facilities. These include competition in local leagues, ‘Sports for All’ gatherings and ‘Folk Games Days’.

GPYW sports clubs organize neighborhood and local sporting events throughout the year. The more accomplished athletes are sent by these clubs to participate in the 200 or so annual district and national sports events organized by the GPYW. Athletes who excel at these events are enrolled in special training camps for serious local and national competition. Twenty youth sports camps throughout the country host thousands of young Saudis every year. Equipped with modern sleeping, dining, sports and recreational facilities, they offer sports training in an atmosphere that emphasizes Saudi Arabia’s heritage.

The best young athletes emerging from these programs are then selected for intensive training to represent Saudi Arabia in international events. The Kingdom’s 18 sports federations, which are supervised by the GPYW, organize leagues and tournaments for these athletes to sharpen their skills. Additionally, athletes and teams attend more than 40 sporting events outside the country each year and participate in major international sporting events inside the Kingdom.

International Competition

Saudi Arabia’s extensive sports program has brought about not only a quantitative growth of sports, but also a dramatic qualitative improvement. The performance of Saudi athletes has improved steadily since the Kingdom joined the International Olympic Committee in 1965.

Since the early 1980s, Saudi athletes have proudly represented the Kingdom in an increasing number of regional and international competitions. The Saudi soccer team qualified for its first appearance in 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

In 1989, Saudi Arabia hosted the fifth World Youth Soccer Cup Championship, won the championship, and received a special commendation from FIFA, the international soccer federation, for the outstanding manner in which it has organized the event.

In 1994, the Saudi national soccer team represented Asia at the World Cup finals in the United States, reached the second round, and received accolades for their playing. Saudi Arabia continues to participate in the World Cup every four years.

The Kingdom also participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, with competitors in the equestrian, wrestling, and track and field events as well as in soccer.

In 2006, Saudi Arabia won the Learning Disability World Cup for soccer in Leverkusen, Germany.

Saudi Arabia is also home to several Little League baseball teams, one of which has qualified over a dozen times for the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Saudi Arabia to host first pro golf tournament

SOURCE: Arab News

March 08, 2018

PARIS: Saudi Arabia will stage its first European Tour golf event in 2019 as the kingdom opens its doors a little more to professional sport, it was announced on Thursday.
The tournament, the first in a three-year partnership, will take place from January 31 to February 3, 2019, and will be staged at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coastline.
Plans were finalized this week during the visit to London of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the man seen as the oil-rich country’s key driver of reform.
“We are very excited to be talking the first steps toward bringing professional golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time and I must thank His Royal Majesty, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his vision in making this happen,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.
The new Saudi tournament will form part of the early season Gulf desert swing which already includes tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar and Oman.
“I hope that this event will inspire more Saudis to take up the game and show that, as a nation, we can host sporting events of this calibre,” said Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, the president of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation.
Saudi Arabia has witnessed a number of steps forward in sports organization this year with a first-ever professional women’s squash tournament staged in Riyadh and women allowed into stadiums to watch local league football matches.

Female teachers join sports training program in 3 major Saudi cities

Time: March 3, 2018 

JEDDAH: A youth leadership initiative run by the British Council KSA and the UK-based Youth Sports Trust, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has almost completed its training tour in the three main provinces in Saudi Arabia.
The initiative focuses on raising awareness of the importance of physical education (PE), through helping sports teachers and young students to drive passion and fun for sports in their communities. It aims to increase society’s fitness level by creating an atmosphere of healthy entertainment.
This initiative has covered almost 52 schools in the three main provinces of Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province. It started in the three main cities because they are well-equipped to hold sports events and festivals.
Lamia Al-Issa, the general supervisor at the Ministry of Education, told Arab News: “Through this program, we aim to achieve 60-70 percent of one of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 primary goals, which is to increase the percentage of individuals exercising at least once a week from 13 to 40 percent of the population.”
The ministry aims to expand the program and provide PE coaches in the rest of the Kingdom, with the opportunity to benefit from such training programs. Fifty-two female coaches from different areas of the three main provinces have benefited from this training tour.
Mona Al-Shehri, English and physical education teacher for 6th grade students, one of the coaches participating in the program, told Arab News: “I think this is a unique experience as it is the first time it has been held in Saudi Arabia. The program gives rise to a new generation that will be more aware physically and health-wise.”
Coaches receive intensive training for two weeks. The second week is a practical application of what the coaches learn in the first week.
The training program focuses on building leadership and team-building skills, and increasing fitness awareness among students and teachers through engaging in creative activities.
Al-Shehri said: “We also engage with the young female leaders to direct them to plan a safe and enjoyable sports festival, which includes around 100 female elementary-school students.
“The young leaders are trained to choose different creative and innovative activities to develop their own leadership skills, and then to be able to build teams and achieve success. This way, the young leaders become sports ambassadors within their society and community.”
In realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and supporting the theme of having a vibrant society with fulfilling lives, PE classes have been gradually implemented in all-girls schools this academic year, 2017-2018.
According to Al-Issa, there is a dedicated team preparing and constructing the coming year’s curricula, to be able to deliver an appropriate program to benefit our students.
Youth Sports Trust is an international charity based in the UK that is passionate about building a brighter future for young people through PE and sport.

This article was first published in Arab News

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