Recently, I was invited to an international women’s golf event, which included the Aramco Saudi Ladies Golf tournament, at the Royal Greens Golf Club at King Abdullah Economic City. The event had a strong impact on Saudi sport and tourism as the first of its kind played in the Kingdom. The tournament attracted huge audiences around the world, with extensive coverage by CNN, BBC and other major stations.
It is worth noting that the relationship between golf, women and Aramco goes back decades. Now that Aramco is a publicly listed company with global investors makes organizing such a tournament even more relevant.
Aramco’s president and CEO, Amin Al-Nasser, presented Emily Pedersen from Denmark with the trophy after she beat Georgia Hall in a thrilling playoff on the par-5 18th. As professional golf’s newest high-profile tournament, the event has helped to introduce golf to more than 1,000 women in Saudi Arabia following the launch of the Ladies First Club, an initiative to provide free golf across the Kingdom.
Watching the tournament with my four young children, I could see Vision 2030 come to life. Such events definitely enriches the touristic experience we have been craving. As the COVID-19 restrictions start to ease and the relieving news comes of a potential vaccine, the tourism sector is slowly recovering from the plunge caused by the pandemic. On the sports front, by hosting this international event, the Kingdom has scored another first for an Arab country.
The Saudi vision is focusing mainly on young people, who make up a high percentage of the population, introducing them to sports such as golf and polo. As a board member of the Saudi Polo Federation, one of our plans is to set up an academy for young riders to start learning the sport.
When I met my dear friend Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and the host of the tournament, I told him how much my children enjoyed the event and said that I hoped they would be participants in future competitions.
There are many benefits of organizing high-profile international sports events. These include building self-esteem among young people, overcoming gender stereotypes and encouraging young women to become high achievers. Next month, I sign up my daughter Salma, who is now 12 years old, for golf classes at Royal Greens club.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.