World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based Duplays is expanding in Saudi Arabia as demand for corporate sports leagues grows. (Photo courtesy of Duplays)
Updated 08 September 2017
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World Cup place tipped to spur social football leagues across Saudi Arabia

LONDON: World Cup qualification for Saudi Arabia is set to drive demand for football leagues across the Kingdom, according to the co-founder of Dubai-based Duplays.
Duplays is close to opening its first sports facility in Jeddah in the form of an inflatable dome, with plans to add more in Riyadh and Dammam also under consideration.
The company was founded in 2007 to run sports leagues in Dubai and has grown to more than 100,0000 registered members playing sports including seven-a-side football, basketball, volleyball, netball and touch rugby.
Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after beating Japan 1-0 in Jeddah on Tuesday, securing a place in the finals in Russia next year.
“That was incredible,” said Duplays co-founder Ravi Bhusari who is leading the company’s expansion in Saudi Arabia through a joint venture with Al-Hokair Group, the entertainment and hospitality conglomerate. “Football is already huge in the Kingdom but World Cup qualification is a big boon for us.”
The 38-year-old Canadian mechanical engineer, who spent 14 years of his youth in Jubail where his father worked as an engineer, believes investment in sport is set to take off in the Kingdom, spurred by the economic reforms of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.
“The timing is great,” said Bhusari. “What we are doing aligns with the the Vision 2030 and getting more kids active.”
Bhusari believes the creation of the General Entertainment Authority in the Kingdom, with its focus on improving lifestyles, will also boost the development of sports leagues and encourage more women into sports.
Greater participation in sport is part of Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to transform the economy of the Kingdom as well as broader Saudi society.
“A healthy and balanced lifestyle is an essential mainstay of a high quality of life. Yet opportunities for the regular practice of sports have often been limited,” said the 86-page Saudi Vision 2030 report launched in April 2016. “This will change. We intend to encourage widespread and regular participation in sports and athletic activities, working in partnership with the private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities and programs.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education in July approved a physical education program at girls’ schools starting this year.


UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

Data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019
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UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

  • Core earnings have increased by 3.6 percent annually, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent
  • The unemployment rate fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million

LONDON: British wages, excluding bonuses, rose at their fastest pace in more than a decade in the three months to May, official data showed, but there were some signs that the labor market might be weakening. Core earnings rose by an annual 3.6 percent, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. Including bonuses, pay growth also picked up to 3.4 percent from 3.2 percent, stronger than the 3.1 percent forecast in the poll. Britain’s labor market has been a silver lining for the economy since the Brexit vote in June 2016, something many economists attribute to employers preferring to hire workers that they can later lay off over making longer-term commitments to investment. The pick-up in pay has been noted by the Bank of England which says it might need to raise interest rates in response, assuming Britain can avoid a no-deal Brexit. Tuesday’s data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected, its joint-lowest since the three months to January 1975. The number of people out of work fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million. But the growth in employment slowed to 28,000, the weakest increase since the three months to August last year and vacancies fell to their lowest level in more than a year. Some recent surveys of companies have suggested employers are turning more cautious about hiring as Britain approaches its new Brexit deadline of Oct. 31. Both the contenders to be prime minister say they would leave the EU without a transition deal if necessary. A survey published last week showed that companies were more worried about Brexit than at any time since the decision to leave the European Union and they planned to reduce investment and hiring. “The labor market continues to be strong,” ONS statistician Matt Hughes said. “Regular pay is growing at its fastest rate for nearly 11 years in cash terms and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation.” The BoE said in May it expected wage growth of 3 percent at the end of this year.